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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 2, 2015 10:00am-8:01pm EST

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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i call up my amendment number 2876. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from washington, mrs. murray, for herself and mr. wyden, proposes an amendment numbered 2876 to amendment numbered 2874. mrs. murray: i ask further reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i think we can all agree there is a lot of work that needs to be done in this congress. priorities like continuing to improve health care for our families, creating jobs, boosting wages, expanding economic security for workers and making higher education more affordable and accessible, just to name a few. but unfortunately, instead of working with democrats to focus
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on those challenges, the ones that families face every day, far too many republicans have doubled down on a favorite past time. attacking women's health and rights in order to pander to their extreme base. i'm very proud to be on the floor today with many of my democratic colleagues to say enough is enough. and make clear that even as republicans try to take women's health backwards, we are going to push harder in the other direction for continued progress on women's access to health care and constitutionally protected reproductive rights. mr. president, this year alone, according to narrow pro-choice america, more than 40 bills have been introduced in this congress that would undermine a woman's constitutionally protected right to make her own choices about her own body. the house and senate have voted
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a total of 17 times -- 17 times -- on legislation to undermine women's health care and rights. that's right, in the year 2015 -- in the year 2015 alone -- republicans in congress have introduced over 40 bills and held 17 votes on whether or not congress should roll back women's rights. that is completely unacceptable. and the bill that we are now debating here on the floor today would defund planned parenthood, and that is just more of the same. it is another effort to force extreme policies through under a fast track process. now, a vote on this bill that is before us today is a vote on whether or not a young woman should be able to go to the provider that she trusts to get birth control. whether cancer screenings should be more or less available to women across the country, and
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whether the 2.7 million men and women who visit planned parenthood each year should continue to get health care services that they rely on. mr. president, over the last few months republican political attacks on planned parenthood and women's health, i have been proud to stand with women nationwide who are making their voices heard and fighting for their right to make their own health care decisions. women like shannon who lives in tumwater, washington. shannon says that the care that she received at planned parenthood as a young woman protected her ability to have children and that today she has planned parenthood to thank for her little girl. women like briann from seattle brianne went to planned parenthood as an uninsured student where providers caught a
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cell growth on her cervix wall before -- before -- it could turn into cancer. and the women and advocates at a planned parenthood center in pullman washington. after an attack on their establishment the pullman community came together to make sure a popup clinic would make sure to provide women with the care they need. mr. president, i know many of us here today are thinking of those who are suffering and who lost loved ones as a result of the tragic violence in colorado springs last week. people across the country, men and women, have had enough of extremeism and violence, including at planned parenthood health care centers. you know, when a woman seeks health care, constitutionally protected health care, she should not have to feel threatened in any way. a doctor in a woman's health clinic should not have to worry
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about wearing a bullet-proof vest under her lab coat. women's health care should not be controversial, much less cause for violence in the 21st century. women and their families have had enough. i have heard from so many women and men who are tired of women's health being undermined, being threatened and being used as a political football here in washington, d.c. who can't believe that in the 21st century a presidential candidate would claim that expanding access to birth control is as easy as setting up a few more vending machines in men's bathrooms. these women and men across the country are speaking up and saying not on our watch to those who want to turn back the clock on women's health and women's
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rights. and i'm going to keep continuing along with mile colleagues to bring -- along with my colleagues to bring their voices and their stories and their fight here to the senate floor. mr. president, as we all know, this is a tired political effort to dismantle the affordable care act and take planned parenthood down with it. it is at a dead end. but if republicans are going to try and cut off access to women's health care, i'm going to make sure they hear about it and that people across this country know exactly where democrats stand: with women. that's why i'm very proud to be introducing this amendment today that would strike the harmful language defunding planned parenthood from this legislation and replace it -- replace it -- with a new fund to support women's health care and clinic safety. there is so much more we need to do to improve women's health
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care in this country today, from strengthening the women's health care workforce to expanding access to constitutionally protected reproductive health care to raising awareness about violence against women. so much more. this fund that is part of this amendment would offer an opportunity to make progress on goals like these and more to support women's health providers at clinic -- and clinics at a time when they need it most. critically it would show women and families that their constitutional rights, that their safety and their health care should come before tea party political pandering. not the other way around. and, by the way, it is fully paid for by the -- democrats are going to keep standing up for women and focus on families.
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i urge my colleagues to join me in standing against this harmful effort to defund planned parenthood and delivering a clear message. again, to republicans in congress who want to play politics with women's health: not on our watch. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. a senator: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment in order to call up my amendment 7825. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. johnson: i ask -- the presiding officer: the clerk will read the amendment. the clerk: the senator from wisconsin, mr. johnson -- mr. johnson: mr. president, i ask reading of the amendment be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: mr. president, at a town hall meeting in green
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bay, wisconsin, on june 11, 2009, president obama was trying to sell his health care law. and this is the claim he made. this is a quote. this is the promise he made to the american public. he said -- quote -- "no matter how we reform health care, i intend to keep this promise: if you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor. if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. less than a week later, in remarks to the american medical association, the nation's largest association of medical doctors, the president said -- and i quote -- "i know that there are millions of americans who are content with their health care coverage. they like their plan, and most importantly, they value the relationship with their doctor. they trust you. and that means no matter how we reform health care, we will keep
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this promise to the american people. if you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor, period. if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. no one will take that away, no matter what. now, mr. president, a number of years have passed since president obama made that promise. it wasn't just those two times that president obama made that promise either. i mean, it's been documented that he made that promise to the american people over 30 times. other supporters of the bill repeated that promise. it was a promise. it was a promise to the american public. it was a promise he knew would
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not be kept. it was a promise supporters of the bill knew there was no way under obamacare that people would be able to keep their health care plan, that they would be able to keep and maintain the relationship with the doctor they trusted, that they knew, that they had faith in. president obama called it a promise. politifact had another name for it. politifact in 2013 turned that promise -- termed that promise its lie of the year. think of that. the president of the united states, trying to sell a massive restructuring of the health care system -- and that's what he was trying to do. he was trying to sell it. he was marketing a bill, a law, a concept.
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in order to market that concept, president obama and other supporters of the bill repeatedly made a promise that politifact termed the lie of the year of 2013. now, mr. president, i come from the private sector. it's incumbent on people in the private sector when you're selling products to consumers to tell the truth about the product. if you don't, you'll be accused of consumer fraud. you can be sued. you can probably be sued out of existence. mr. president, can you imagine how the trial bar would treat a businessperson who tried to sell a product by making a promise that turned in to be the 2013 lie of the year? mr. president, i don't believe that business would be in business today. obamacare at its heart is a
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massive consumer fraud. a massive consumer fraud. so the purpose of my amendment is the purpose of a piece of legislation i introduced in 2013. the same thing. it's designed to honor the promise that president obama made that he did not keep, the promise that was made under obamacare that was not kept. the bill in 2013 was simply titled "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it act." and what's rather unique about my piece of legislation is they use the exact same wording of obamacare. obamacare actually did have a section in it called a grandfather clause that purported to allow people to keep their health care. it allowed them to maintain their relationship with their doctor if they liked their
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health care plan and their doctor. the problem is it was a grandfather clause that allowed you to keep your plan as long as you completely changed it. so what my bill in 2013 did is it just said, listen, you can actually keep your health care plan, and you don't have to change it. and that's what my amendment does today. it restores that promise, the promise that president obama and the supporters of obamacare -- let me use the real name. the patient protection and affordable care act. you know of the orwellian named laws that have been passed through this chamber, this is probably the most orwellian. because the patient protection affordable care act did neither. because that promise was not kept. it was a lie.
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patients weren't protected. they lost their health care plan we have all received letters from constituents, often heartbreaking letters. there was a couple in wisconsin, they both had cancer. he's recovering from prostate cancer. she had stage 4 lung cancer. they had health care in the state high-risk pool. they could afford it. it worked for them. they lost it because of obamacare. they called our office panicked, panicked because they couldn't log onto they tried almost 40 times. they lost their health care plan. that promise was broken. i don't hear supporters of the law pointing to those individuals. so what my amendment would do is restore the promise that if you had health care that you liked in 2013, insurance companies could offer those same plans
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again. they were far more affordable, far more affordable. because as i just stated with that one little example, the patient protection and affordable care act did protect patients and it certainly hasn't been more affordable. we've also received hundreds of letters from people whose premiums have doubled. their out-of-pocket maximums, their deductibles have doubled and tripled. they can't even afford to use the health care that they are able to secure, because it has become so expensive. so the reality of obamacare is it has been a miserable failure. and the promises made under it literally were abject lies. and that's just the reality. that's the very sad fact. so i encourage all my colleagues to unanimously support the promise president obama and the law's supporters made and vote for my amendment which would
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allow americans that if they like their health care plan, if they like their doctor, they actually will be able to keep it. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i thoroughly support the right of my colleague to his opinion, but we have never had more people insured in modern history because of obamacare. it doesn't mean it's perfect, but let me tell you i don't know what my colleagues' constituents constituents tell him, but i'll tell you what mine do. they say thank you. thank you for the fact that i can get insurance. thank you for the fact that i can get it even if i have a heart condition. thank you for the fact that my child can stay on my policy until he is 26 years old. thank you, thank you thank you.
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thank you for the life-saving preventative care that i get, thank you. thank you for the cheaper prescription drugs. so people live in different universes, i guess, but i prefer to stick to the facts, and the facts are millions and millions and millions of americans now have the peace of mind of being insured, and they don't become a burden on their families and they don't become a burden on the emergency room and they don't become a burden on their communities. i thank president obama for his courage. we can fix what is wrong with obamacare but time and time again, more than 50 times they have tried to repeal it, the g.o.p., and they're going to try again, and they're going to fail again. secretly, i think they hope they fail because they have nothing, nothing to replace it with.
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it's kind of a joke. nothing. oh, let's just open up the free market. well, folks, we've tried that forever, and obamacare isn't government care. it is insurance exchanges and it's medicaid expansion in those states that wish to have it. and i've got to tell you, those states who have it, the people are really happy. now, i rise today not only to respond to that attack on health care that we've heard again for the 90th time from the other side, i really rise to thank senator murray. thank her again for her unbelievable leadership in protecting women's health. and beyond that, she's a leader in protecting children's health and men's health and family's health and our seniors' health. but today what she is doing is very important.
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she is saying to the republicans we don't like the fact that you're defunding a health care organization that serves three million americans every year with life-saving health care, preventative health care, s.t.d.'s testing, breast cancer exams, and at least three million americans want us to stand up and fight for them, and that's what senator murray is doing today, and i'm proud to be by her side. what she is simply saying is no, we're not going to defund planned parenthood. she is going to strike that out of this bill that they have put forward. but also we're going to pay for an expansion of women's health care, because we know that all you have got is your health.
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just ask people who may have everything else in the world. somebody gets cancer, somebody gets a heart attack, somebody se family is diagnosed with alzheimer's, parkinson's. your whole world is turned upside-down. so what do my friends on the other side do? strike funding from an organization that has more respect in this country than their party or my political party or this congress has. well, it would be easy to beat the reputation of this congress, but it is the vast majority of the american people who understand the role of planned parenthood. so i strongly support this amendment. and i want to reiterate something senator murray said. republicans have introduced more than 40 bills to take away
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women's health care in this congress, 40 bills. 40 bills. and then they say oh, no, we're not conducting a war on women. yes you are. yes you are. when you want to turn the clock back to the days when women died from back-alley abortions, you are conducting a war on women. and by the way, if you don't believe a woman should have the right to choose, i respect you. take that ideology to your own family. of course. but don't tell everyone in america they have to think the way you think. i don't tell them they have to think the way i think. if i have constituents who say senator, i have a certain belief and it means no abortion, i say god bless you, of course. but if you don't have that belief and you do believe in roe v. wade, which most of the people in this country do, where a woman should have the right to choose early in her pregnancy
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without government interference, if you do believe in that, that's the law of the land, then you should have that right. can i ask that there be quiet? thank you. this is a really serious point. a really serious point. now, i've got to say you've got over on the other side in the house now a new special committee which is going to continue the witch-hunt on planned parenthood. why do they need a new committee? they have several committees. i served proudly in the house for ten years. there are so many committees that have jurisdiction over health and health care and science and the rest. if you want to repeal roe v. wade, if you want to take away a woman's right to choose, then have the courage to introduce an amendment and do it.
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just do it. the last time it was done, it failed here. but if that's what you want to do, i respect you. come on down here and say you think abortion should be a crime, subjected to jail time for women, for doctors. go ahead, do it. do it. i'll debate you. you know, i was thinking the other day the g.o.p. has changed, the grand old party that i knew. i mean, george bush, our first president, was on the board of planned parenthood. was on the board of planned parenthood. i was on the board of planned parenthood in the 1970's. i was one of the few democrats. this was a bipartisan issue. women's health, reproductive freedom. it was not a partisan issue. so the grand old party has changed from the g.o.p., i call
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them the p.o.p., the party of the past. they're the party of the past. not only do they want to reverse roe v. wade, but they don't have the courage to come down and do it directly. oh, no, they defund planned parenthood. come on. you know, i wasn't born yesterday. it's obvious. and i know what this is all about. take away the clinics, take away the health care, take away a woman's right to choose. it's happening all over the country. if you don't like roe v. wade, come down here and try to overturn it here. okay. now, fetal tissue research. there are organizations all over this country that do make fetal tissue available to save lives. to save lives. now, how long has this been in
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place? it was under ronald reagan when he was president that he set up a special committee that was headed by a pro-life judge, an anti-choice judge. they studied this and said it's very important to do it. very important to do it. in 1993, the congress voted to federally fund fetal tissue research. now, you don't like fetal tissue research? you think you ought to stop it? come down here with a bill, introduce it and we'll argue it. you don't want to do fetal tissue research, you don't think it's good to find cures for parkinson's, alzheimer's, you come down here and put the bill in the hopper. oh, no, they don't want to do that. they want to just conduct a
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witch-hunt on one of the organizations that helps make fetal tissue research possible. and this after, this after they had the head of planned parenthood before the congress for four or five hours straight. only topped by what they did to former secretary of state hillary clinton. i think she was there 11 hours. okay. so after all those hours that see -- cecile richards -- and they asked her what she got paid to do her work. i never heard them ask anybody else what they got paid. as it turns out, she was on the low scale of what the jobs are. that's not the point. they harassed her for hours, hours. and their rhetoric was not good. what we say matters.
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what we say matters. when i say i respect people who feel they would never allow their child or their wife to have an abortion, i respect that . but if somebody else says we agree with roe v. wade that at the early stages it ought to be an option for women or family, i respect them. i don't demonize one side. but the other side does, over and over again. i have stood on this floor for many years now. frankly, with my colleague patty murray and my colleague dianne feinstein. and we've heard mostly men come down here and lecture us about, you know, how it's terrible, roe v. wade should never be the law of the land. there should be no abortion and the rest of it. that is their right. i do not believe it is their right to take away funding from
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an organization that serves three million americans a year and saves lives. so while republicans, the party of the past, have put in 40 bills to take away a woman's right to choose, essentially, we say today through the murray amendment we're looking at the future and we're looking with clear eyes and we're looking at our people and we support people who go to planned parenthood for their health care, and we are going to vote, and i pray we win this vote, to strip out this attack on planned parenthood. we're here to say stop this assault on women's health care, it's wrong. it's absolutely wrong. you know, -- and i want to put
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it into context. i said that planned parenthood serves three million people. i want to give you even more specifics. 400,000 women receive their pap tests to protect themselves against cervical cancer. they want to stop that funding. they want to take away services from 400,000 women. they said oh no, we really don't. they'll go other places. they'll go to other health care centers. excuse me, i have those health care centers. more than anybody, they are overworked, overloaded, and they support planned parenthood. they're attacking 500,000 women who get breast exams, and if a doctor finds a lump, they refer them for a mammogram. they go after women and men who have nowhere else to turn for their most basic health care. and we have been down this road
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before. just a few months ago in this very senate we defeated the republicans' attempt to defund planned parenthood, but they are back again with the same old, same old, same old, same old party of the past attitude. they just are attacking planned parenthood because planned parenthood has a host of services, 97% of which have nothing to do with abortion. you don't want to have abortion legal, you want to make it a crime, you want to put doctors in jail, you want to put women in jail, come down here, put something in a bill form, repeal roe v. wade and criminalize abortion. i am old enough to remember when it was a crime. let me tell you something. there are graves all over this
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country with women who died from back alley abortion and botched abortion, and they never said it was from that because then they would have died a criminal. we are not going to go back to those days. the party of the past is not winning on this. and they're not going to win because president obama is going to veto this bill, and maybe this next senate will have a pro-choice senate for a change. in 2011, republicans threatened to shut down the entire government of the united states of america if planned parenthood wasn't defunded. remember, 97% of what planned parenthood does has nothing to do with abortion, but planned parenthood is in their line of attack, and they haven't
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stopped, and the rhetoric matters. and what they say matters. in fact, these attacks go back to 1916. planned parenthood's founder was arrested because she was providing birth control information to poor people; okay? imagine, a woman was arrested for explaining to some people how they could prevent unwanted pregnancies. arrested. now i admit we've come a long way, but these people want to take us back. yes, a woman was arrested for advocating birth control, and now you have republicans right in this senate and in this congress who say women shouldn't have access to free birth control. you know, if they don't want to take birth control, fine. don't. it's fine with me. i respect it.
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and if you don't think your family should ever have an abortion, i'm with you all the way on your right. that is your right. but this is america. we don't have big-government think. we don't have big government telling you what to do about your own body, what your religion should be. this is a major issue. i always thought the old g.o.p. was the party of independence. you know, we have our views, but people have a right to think the way they want to think. no, that's the old g.o.p. this is the new p.o.p., the party of the past. let me say this, this is sad. this is sad. this is the 21st century. we should be working together to ensure that every family has access to legal health care. and if you want to make something illegal, have the
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courage to come down here and say it's illegal. don't start defunding organizations that give women this health care. and also stop the demonizing rhetoric. one candidate for president on the republican side called people who are pro-choice barbarians, and he happens to be a senator. he called us barbarians. what we say matters. what we say matters. political witch hunts, they're wrong. what we say matters. special committees set up to demonize an organization like planned parenthood, that's wrong i wrote to speaker ryan.
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i asked him to disband that house committee, that latest committee that was set up. it's costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for a special committee when they have a slew of committees that have jurisdiction over health care and over science and fetal tissue research. a political witch hunt being paid for by taxpayers after they hauled the president of planned parenthood before them and had her sit there for hour after hour after hour after hour after hour. the american people have to wake up to this. that's why i'm taking all this time. because this isn't a small matter of supporting patty murray's amendment, which is so important.
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it's a very simple amendment. we're going to stop them from defunding planned parenthood, and we're actually going to increase spending on women's health because i can assure you when you catch breast cancer early, that pays dividends, first and foremost to her and her family. she's going to live. second of all, to the taxpayers. they don't have to treat cancer with expensive drugs and surgeries. when you catch cervical cancer, same thing. so when my friend suggests that we spend more on health care to prevent these problems, she is doing something right for the taxpayers. let's be clear, there's a dangerous climate out there for planned parenthood, and it's going to be exacerbated today. since 1977, there's been 11
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murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 186 arsons against abortion clinics and providers for doing something that is legal. anything we say that promotes this kind of terrorism and violence, anything we say that results in this, we should never say. we need to protect medical personnel and staff, who put their life on the line every day working in these clinics. and we should protect the patients who rely on them. as my colleague said, imagine a doctor, a nurse having to wear protective gear under their uniform.
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so, the women's health care and clinic security and safety fund that my friend is proposing is very important. it's a very important vote. it will provide compensation for health providers who provide the full spectrum of comprehensive women's health care services, and it will enhance safety at clinics. the great ted kennedy and i worked on the face act. that was his bill. and the face act was meant to protect patients and doctors at clinics. all those years ago, i was a young new senator then, and he asked if i would be his lieutenant and help him get the bill through, and we got the bill through. but i think what senator murray is doing today is responding to the violence, the increased violence, the atmosphere of fear
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that we see at these clinics. and her amendment also requires the health and human services department, the secretary, to work in coordination with the attorney general's national task force on violence against health care providers to submit an annual report to congress identifying the best practices to ensure the security and safety of clinics, providers, facilities, and staff. we cannot waste another minute on yet another vicious, wrongheaded assault on women's health. as i said, you don't want women to have the right to choose, have the courage to come down here, take it away. but don't do it through the back door by attacking an organization that provides that health to three million people every year. you don't want fetal tissue research that's been legal for a
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very long time and since 1993 we've had government funding, you don't like it, you don't think it's helping finding cures for diseases, come down here and stop it. don't attack an organization that is involved in that activity legally. you want to take us back to pre-1973 when women died in back alleys, have the courage to come down here and make your case. believe me, we'll take you on. but do it, because that's what you want. don't hide behind attacking these organizations. that's a phony way to approach something. just approach it straight ahead. we have fought this fight before. we have won this fight before. they want to shut down the government, we said go ahead, try it. we beat them. they're doing it again. and i have to say this isn't
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about me. this isn't about senator murray. this isn't about any individual senator on the other side. we're just here for a little time in history. and the question is: in america, we don't go back, i say to the party of the past. we don't go back in america. we go forward. we go forward. we don't take away rights. we expand rights. we don't have big government telling people what to do in the privacy of their own home, their own bedroom, their own lives. we let them make the decision as long as it's legal. and so we're going to fight to make sure that men and women across this country continue to get the services they need, and we're going to make sure that planned parenthood is still there for the millions of women and families who depend on it. and i strongly support the murray amendment. i compliment her for putting it
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together. and i hope we get a good vote, maybe even a majority vote, and make a strong statement from this united states senate that we stand with the three million people who rely on planned parenthood, and we stand for health care. thank you very much. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, i've been able to sit in and listen to the debate today. bringing forward a bill that would do two simple things. it would remove funding from the single largest provider of abortions in the country, an organization that has recently sold the body parts of children for the highest bidder. and we would deal with one of
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the main issues that i face every single day in my state, as people who struggle under the effects and the harmful effects every day of the affordable care act, which has proven to be neither affordable nor caring to many people in my state. let me say some of the things i've heard recently, that this is all about going after women's health. it is -- as a very proud husband of a very beautiful lady and a proud dad of two beautiful daughters and as a son of a breast cancer survivor, this has nothing to do with going after women's health, nor demonizing women, nor the war on women, nor all the other accusations that i've recently heard. this is not about protecting a, what i heard called a lifesaving health care organization, where 325,000 children died in it last year. this is about a simple thing:
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children. now in the past, back in the old days, they used to identify just tissue as tissue. and the wart on your skin or other tissues on your body were expendable. and it was just tissue. so why does it matter? but now, not like in the past, because in the past people used to think that way. but now science is able to look inside the womb and is able to count ten fingers on a child and is able to watch a child suck its thumb, able to count ten toes on that child, is able to look inside and take a sample and see that l child has different d.n.a. than the mom and different d.n.a. from the dad, to be able to look inside the womb and see a unique fingerprint that's different than the mom's fingerprint, that's different than the dad's fingerprint. and we understand something different now. because in the past there was a belief that was just tissue. now we understand that's not
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tissue. that's a child. and as americans, we believe in a simple thing -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. it's been what we have been all about from the beginning. this is not some attack on women's health. this is millions of voices rising up around the nation and saying we're better than this as a nation. why would we continue to supplement the death of children? why would we do that? can we be better than that? in the days ahead, i firmly believe that we're on the right side of history, those of us who stand up for children and for those who cannot speak for themselves, the most innocent and vulnerable in our society need our protection. just because they're small and just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not
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valuable and they could be thrown away. these are children we're talking about. little girls, little boys. and we think it's important that someone in this country speaks out for them. now, i have heard of late that those of us who speak for life should be quieter because there are irrational people in the country that would attack a planned parenthood clinic. can i just reinforce to you, mr. president, no one who speaks for life goes and takes a life. no one who speaks for the life of children runs out and takes the life of adults. and says that that's justifiable. it's not justifiable. it's horrific. but just like those individuals who speak tenaciously against religion shouldn't be silenced because there is a shooting in a
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church and say people that are antifaith should suddenly have no voice in america just because an irrational person shoots someone in a church, it is the same that individuals who speak out for the life of children shouldn't suddenly be silenced by being screamed down because an insane person does a shooting in a clinic. both of them are wrong. it's a reasonable thing for us to be able to ask a single question -- can we as a nation start a conversation again about children with ten fingers and ten toes and unique d.n.a. and life and promise. can someone speak out for them? i think we can. this conversation today is also about the affordable care act. its promises and what's actually occurred. there is no question that we have major health care delivery issues in america. there is no question we have major insurance issues in america. that has been that way for a
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while and it needs desperate resolution. my state, like many other states, started stepping into this. democratic governor from my state led the way in a legislature in 2004 to pass something called insure oklahoma. to start the process in our state, to say what can we do to try to help the most vulnerable in our state? how can we help provide some supplement to what's going on in the plan? we received waivers around medicaid. started working through a process both for those that are employed and not employed, they will provide that safety net for those individuals. it was a very successful plan until the affordable care act was passed. and then the waivers were removed from our state and those individuals under that plan lost their plan and had to change to another one. in fact, i had some of those individuals approach me and say i know this is a plan that is provided by our state. it will be grandfathered into the affordable care act, won't it? i got to tell them no, it won't.
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we have been denied on that. it's remarkable to me as we deal with these two topics side by side how some of the opponents of life would say we want freedom of choice, we want big government out of our lives, but when we get to health care delivery, the bigger the government, the better. we want less choice. we don't want states to have the option to do that. we don't want businesses to be able to choose how they can do that. we don't want individuals to be able to have that choice. we want big government to step into people's lives in their health care delivery and tell them how it's going to be done. it's fascinating to me to be able to see those two juxtaposed all of a sudden. get government out of our lives but get more government into our health care. so now what do we do? in 2010, president obama in his state of the union address made this statement. this is his statement. "by the time i'm finished speaking tonight, more americans will have lost their health insurance.
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millions will lose it this year. our deficit will grow, premiums will go up, co-pays will go up, patients will be denied the care they need, small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. i will not walk away from these americans and neither should the people in this chamber." it's an interesting statement based on what actually occurred then after the patient protection and affordable care act was actually passed. which is another issue to me. it's interesting how this is called obamacare or the affordable care act. almost no one calls it the patient protection and affordable care act. that was originally its name. for some reason, patient protection has been dropped from our vernacular when this bill is discussed. so he made this statement -- "more americans will have lost their health insurance." i already referenced how we had thousands of oklahomans lose their health care coverage as soon as the affordable care act went into place because they were under insure oklahoma. that coverage was lost for them.
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we now have fewer options in oklahoma for health care. we have blue cross/blue shield that began notifying 40,000 oklahomans it will no longer offer the blue choice provider network to individuals. community care of oklahoma, a tulsa-based company offering health maintenance organization plans, has notified the federal government it plans to drop out of the affordable care act market. global health, another tulsa-based h.m.o. insurer said it has already notified oklahomans it is leaving the affordable care act market. assure ant health, a wisconsin company who has also covered oklahomans, has now notified the government it is leaving the health care coverage area. united healthcare, the new participant in oklahoma's affordable care act market, has announced details -- has not announced details of the plans it will offer but a state official said its rates would be competitive. well, that will be interesting because in oklahoma, the rates next year go up on average 35%.
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next year. that's not some projected number. that's the actual number rates will increase in my state, 35%. it's interesting to me that yesterday on this same floor i heard arguments back and forth about the cost of living increase and the need for individuals that are in a voteable position under social security, they are receiving social security, need that help for a cost of living increase. i completely understand the dynamic of that. but at the same time individuals who would support a cost of living increase for social security recipients don't seem to bat an eye when people in my state have health insurance increases of 35% next year. do you know how difficult that is to cover a 35% health care premium increase? the president said premiums will go up while he's speaking in
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2010. i will tell you in 2016 premiums under the plan that he put into place will dramatically go up in my state. the president said while he was speaking in 2010 the co-pays will go up unless we don't do something. the editorial board of a great newspaper "the oklahoman" in oklahoma, november 30 said numerous reports have noted that policies sold through obamacare exchanges increasingly rely on very high deductibles with limited provider networks. for some with a major illness such as cancer, these policies are still beneficial, but for relatively healthy people, the deductibles are so high there is little functional difference between being uninsured and insured when it comes to an impact on your personal finances. i cannot tell you the number of oklahomans that i have talked to that have said this one thing to me -- i have insurance because the law requires me to do it, but it's so expensive, i cannot use it. so i literally pay for something because i'm forced to, but i can't actually use it on a
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day-to-day basis because the co-pays are so high. i hear the same thing from doctors and hospitals. hospitals were told that their charity care would go down because everyone would be forced to have insurance. here is what i actually hear from the hospitals in oklahoma. their charity care has gone up, all of them. their charity care and their write-off has gone up because now their individuals walk into those hospitals, say i have insurance, get the bill and realize how high hair payment will be and they realize i cannot pay it. so their charity care has actually gone up. the statement was patients from president obama in 2010, patients will be denied the care that they need. let me give you an example. on june 4 of this year, there was a highlight of kaylene richter, a 4-year-old girl who was denied coverage for a prescription she needed for asthma under the marketplace. loss of choice, loss of competition in my state. instead of more options, we have
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fewer options. doctors' offices are selling out because physicians can't seem to make ends meet, there are so many requirements on them and they are selling out as private practice, going into larger hospital practices. hospitals are actually having to take in diagnostic facilities. hospitals are taking care of individual physician practices. hospitals are combining with other hospitals. we see instead of a large number of great competition happening, we see a smaller number of hospitals, a smaller number of entities, each of them larger and larger to be able to sustain that. we've even seen that nationally in the insurance market. because of what is happening in the affordable care act, it's pushing out insurance around the country. and this great statement of it's not government-controlled health care, it's insurance. well, right now anthem, significant in a, aetna and huma are all going through a combining process. where those four insurance companies that are national
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large-scale companies realize they cannot make it under the affordable care act and they're merging into one giant company. to see if they can make it as a giant company. fewer options, fewer choices, centrally controlled health care. how do we turn this back? well, i would tell you in some ways you can't. democrats that pass this and the president have succeeded in permanently changing health care in america. those individual physicians that used to practice individual medicine all over the country that have now merged into larger hospitals, you don't undo that. those individuals that were going to go into medical school but chose not to now, you don't undo that for a generation. these insurance companies that all combined into large groups, you don't undo that. the diagnostic facilities that are going out of business and merging with large hospitals, you don't just quickly undo
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that. they have succeeded at permanently changing health care delivery in america. so the challenge is now how do we help in the days ahead? what do we do? let's say some things can be done, we can continue to provide greater options, but the first thing that we can do is stop the hemorrhaging. first do no harm. first engage and try to help the people that are affected by this. i've offered amendment in this bill. this is something called the health care compact. it allows individual states that want to be able to manage their health care to be able to manage the health care in their state. this may seem like a crazy idea except it's done in every single state right now already. every single state already has a medicaid process. they already have a health care authority. they already made decisions. those are severely limited by federal regulations, but that structure is already in place to take care of the most vulnerable in our nation. the health care compact would allow states to be able to
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broaden their authorities and to be able to do what needs to be done to be able to take care of the individuals in their state like my state has tried so hard to do with insure oklahoma and other options to be made available to people in my state that are being forbidden by the federal government. this would open that back up, would allow that competition. i can assure you every time i speak to smaller rural hospitals in my state, they cannot get the attention of c.m.s. and the federal government because they're small and they're rural and people in d.c. don't know where they're located and they don't have a big enough lobbying voice. they are just another one of those community hospitals out there that doesn't happen in they're interacting with people in my state. because of those health care parameters are being set by people in oklahoma city and our state capital, they know every small rural hospital. they know the dynamics and the difficulties there. they're not last in line. they are a part of the family. allowing individual states to be able to make health care decisions through health care
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compacts that actually allows that state to be able to manage health care in their state is a tremendous asset. my state has asked for that. eight other states have asked for that. it's not an unfair request. it's something that we should make available to states that choose to do that. now, will every state choose to do that? no, probably some states would want the federal government to be rabel to manage some of their health care. those states are able to do that. but for states that want to be able to have that choice, allow them to have the freedom to be able to do that. if they have the structure to be able to fulfill the needs in their state, why would we forbid it? why w would we say those of us n washington, d.c., know more than those in oklahoma for oklahoma oklahomans? i think we're misguided in that. this can be done different.
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what are we up against? we're up against real people who really face real issues. and i.t. been incredibly difficult for them to be able to walk through the obamacare transition. this is not about patient protection. and i.t. been far from affordable, as prices continue to go up. let me just read one story from my state. a lady who lives in a rural area in my state. this has been one of the toughest areas. the affordable care act assumes everyone lives in new york city or some metropolitan area. welcome to the rest of america. not everyone lives in big urban settings. this is one of those folks. she lives in a rural area of -- not too far but a good distance from oklahoma city. she said she sold some land recently -- by the way, she is on the health care, changes. she sold some land recently, which you do in rural america, that made her income go up significantly for that one year of one land sale. she said the marketplace doesn't
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see it as a one-year thing. and so they take all the information about her subsidies on that before taxes, so it raised her freedom $43 to $400. she said she's going to try to figure out a way to be able to manage that. then see says this. why does she have to pay so much for a plan that's not even useable in her area? no one will take her insurance and providers are dropping it because they're not getting paid. she has to now travel all the way to oklahoma city so she can find care at all. all she's looking for is an affordable option and people in her area that will actually take it. it's one thing to say it's providing an option. it's another thing to say you can actually access that option. you know, we can do better as americans. this is a conversation we should have. let's have it.
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let's talk about a better way to be able to do this. this is not about fixing something. this is about a transition that's happened in hebl health e in america into needs to be corrected. we can never go back to where we were. now it's a matter of what can be done that's best for people, not what's best for the federal government. what's combest fo best for the f our state. i'den courage the adoption of my amendment. i would encourage the adoption of this reconciliation package that's before our nation and this body in the days ahead. with that, i'd yield the floor. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i have a few remarks to respond to my colleague's remarks, and then i would ask immediately -- they're not going to long -- and immediately followed by senator blumenthal, if that's okay, and then back -- mr. lankford: i would have objection to that if i'm not
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able to respond to the comments she makes. mrs. boxer: okay, i'll withdraw. that's fine. i will ejust have thi'll just ak me a question. first of all, he talks about obamacare. he forgets thats three millions and millions and millions of americans who now have insurance, the same kind of insurance he has as a united states senato senator and i hava united states senator. but he forgets the factor, number one, that we have seen more people insured than in modern history. he conveniently forgets that fact. he forgets the fact there's no limits on coverage. insurance companies can't cancel your health insurance. he talks about children with great eloquence and he's -- i'm sure just a fantastic parent. but he forgets the fact that 17 million more children are
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insured, a pretty important point. but i really have to take offense at some of my colleague's remarks. he says -- he makes an eloquent point about states' rights. he finishes his argument about obamacare saying, don't have the federal government tell my state what to do. well, in essence, obamacare doesn't do that. you have an exchange. but, yes, we do require people to get insurance. that's true. and that comes from a republican governor made mitt romney's plan. but then he says, leave my state alone. but yet he wants to take away a woman's right to choose an abortion. he wants to do that. he thinks the federal government should do that. so he makes an eloquent point about states' rights, but he, as a senator, who doesn't believe
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in abortion -- that's his total right, i respect it, i would defend it -- he basically says he wants to decide for everybody in the country that they shouldn't be able to have an abortion because he doesn't approve of that. what makes his opinion more important than mine? there are -- it isn't. this is america. we all have different views about when life begins, about roe v. wade, but yet he stands here and uses rhetoric that i say is irresponsible. that's my opinion. it's my opinion, not his. now, the senator started off his discussion and said the truth, that he has a beautiful wife and a beautiful family. well, i want the senator to know, i have a handsome husband and a beautiful family. okay? so he has a beautiful wife and a
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beautiful family. i have a handsome husband and a beautiful family. what the heck does that have to do with anything else? we're both parents. i'm grandparent. i gave birth. what does that have to do with this conversation? the fact of the matter is, it's not about your beautiful family, my beautiful family. it's about the beautiful families out there who, a, need insurance and, who, b, will make their own decision in america about when life begins, who will make their own decision in america as to whether they support roe v. wade. and then my friend says that someone in his family survived cancer -- and, thank g.d.p than. i've had friends who have died from it and friend whose
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survived it. and family members as well. this has to do with the other lives that we impact when we say we're going to take away health care from three million americans who get it from planned parenthood. now, my friend lectures us -- he's done this before, he and i gone at this before, it's fine -- he talks about his deep feelings about how he is against abortion at any stage. then why doesn't he come down here after all his rhetoric -- i listened to it, i am offended it it frankly -- why doesn't he come down here and write a law that says it's a crime to have an abortion and you should go to jail? that's what he's basically saying, if you listen to his rhetoric, the words he used. no, he doesn't do that.
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i checked his legislative reco record. he just wants to defund organizations that are operating under complete legality, under roe v. wade, the law of the land. so abortion has been legal since 1973. the senator doesn't agree with it. i have total respect for that. but if you think it's a crime, then go ahead and instead of coming here and giving these speeches about those of us who happen to believe it's up to a woman to decide these issues, you really basically are saying, we're advocating a crime. and that is ow offensive. i would never say that to my friend. never. and then, of course, the whole party over there is attacking an organization that is operating
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legally under the law, 93% of 9- e79s% of what the -- 97% of what they do you is breast cancer screenings, cervical screenings, save people's lives, i've looked them in the eye. i know what i am talking about. so if you don't think the 3% of what planned parenthood does, which is absolutely connected to reproductive health, the reproductive health, then come down and say it is a crime. but i bet none of my friends would do that. because if i said to my people, republicans think you should go to jail in you had an abortion or go to jail if you take contraception -- some of them feel that way, not all of them -- they would really be in trouble. -- at the polls.
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so it is -- when you make these verbal attacks on people who don't agree with you, sir, your words matter. your words matter. they have an impact. you're here because you're he eloquent. your words have an impact. and if what you want to have happen is put people in jail for performing a legal procedure, come down here and do that. but don't come down here and say what you sympathy think is a c, therefore, we're going to defund an organization that is operating legally. now, my friend from the other side of the aisle may not like it, but three million people count on planned parenthood, and his approach is an attack on those three million people. more than, i guess -- i don't know how many people live in oklahoma, but i would assume it's fewer than that, perhaps.
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and this obsession with repealing obamacare, despite the fact that it is helping so many people, is -- is of epic proportions. we've seen a repeal over there in the house 52 times. i wonder if my friend wanted to yield -- wanted me to yield for a question? or is he going to wait for a response? so, mr. president, just to sum it all up, it is offensive to hear someone describe what is the law of the land as a criminal act. it is -- as a crime. but more than that, if that's what you believe -- and i respect your right to believe it -- then come up here and do what you really want to do: overturn roe v. wade, tell women of america they have no right to choose anymore.
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if that's what you want to do, go ahead and do it. you with a nts to make iyou wan? make it a crime. that's honest. what is dishonest is to r. a tack an organization -- what is dishonest is to attack an organization that is acting within the law, which is helping three million people -- and i would say that is what this debate is about. and i just hope the murray amendment passes today. it will send a strong signal. and if it doesn't pass, we know this bill is going to be vetoed, because this president understands that this government is not the be-all and end-all. we are not the moral voice of the yiewfs yiewftion. w-- we are not the moralvoice o. people don't even like us as an institution. let them make up their own minds in their own homes. with their own god, with their own family. and i support them, whatever
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their decision is, whether they are pro-choice, whether they are anti-choice. i will fight for their right to decide for their own selves, but i will not force my view on somebody else. and that's what being pro-choice means. that you are willing to understand there are difficult issues, and i don't have every answer, and the senator from oklahoma doesn't have an answer. it is called humility. i don't have the answer. i will trust my constituents to make that decision. and i just hope that we will stop this attack on planned parenthood. if this is really about a woman's right to choose, let's have that debate. you want to call it a crime, which i've heard on this floor, then put your bill out there. tell people they're committing a crime. put them in jail -- do that. we'll have the debate. we'll win that debate. but we'll have that debate.
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but don't go after organizations who are acting completely within the law. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the snrr wyoming. mr. enzi: i'd yield such time as the senator oklahoma needs to respond to that. mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: senators are reminded that they will refer to each other in the third person. the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: thank you, mr. president. that was actually the first thing i was going to say. i aprooshappreciate the senator acknowledging that, according to senate rules. my simple statement was not sphwendz texpwendz tointendedto. i'm looking for what was offensive rhetoric that was stated multiple times by the senator from california. as i tried to think back what
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was offensive rhetoric of me saying that children have ten fingers and ten toes and unique d.n.a. and a unique fingerprint, doesn't seem to be offensive. i never talked about criminalizing anything. i heard multiple times through a conversation on the floor that i was criminalizing, criminalizing, criminalizing. i actually was speaking out for millions of children each year that die. and to say would we not want to reconsider the new science that has been available in america for decades now, to look inside the womb to be able to see ten fingers and ten toes, unique d.n.a. and a fingerprint dimp than th--different than the moma unique value. even the supreme court, when they ruled on roe v. wade, talked about viability.
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in current -- and current science continues to press on what is viable. as a friend of mine delivered last year a little girl that was 14-ounces. 14-ounces. that little girl is a healthy little girl now, over a year old. continuing and doing fine. in 1973, that child would not have been viable. it's very much a child. she's beautiful. and as for this whole conversation about millions of people losing insurance if obamacare goes away and don't i care about millions of people and their insurance, the issue's not millions of people being covered. there are other ways to be able to help millions of americans. as i acknowledged when i spoke, there are real issues in health care delivery in america, and there are significant issues that continue to this day. my simple statement was those issues get larger and larger, and my concern is while individuals would stand up and say we have millions of people covered, they ignore a 35%
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increase of premiums in my state. they ignore the reality of a growing co-pay in my state that people are forced by law to buy a product that they cannot actually afford to use. my simple statement is can we not acknowledge -- not that there are not millions of people newly covered, but we have millions of people that now have a coverage they cannot use and cannot afford to keep and yet they're compelled by law to do it. in fact, they become criminals if they don't buy the health care coverage required by law. these are real issues, and they really do need dialogue. good civil dialogue i think will be able to help us work these things out and center in on the facts. with that, mr. president, i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i want to thank my colleagues from oklahoma and california for this
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exchange of views, and most particularly thank my colleague from the state of washington for the amendment that she has offered that would in effect remove or eliminate a harmful provision in the budget reconciliation bill, a provision that would eliminate funding for planned parenthood and other providers of reproductive health services for women. and very importantly, it would also establish a fund to assist the department of justice in monitoring and combating violent opposition to women seeking access to lawful reconstructive health services. now, we can have a broad and comprehensive debate on a great many of the subjects that are related to the amendment offered by senator murray, but the simple fact is that funding for
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planned parenthood helps with women's health care. it provides services like cancer screenings, birth control and s.c.i. testing and treatment that simply are inaccessible and unavailable to those women anywhere else. for all the talk about alternatives to planned parenthood, the women who receive services through planned parenthood have nowhere else to go in so many instances and in the majority of the care provided by planned parenthood, cancer screenings, birth control, s.c.i. testing and treatment results in pregnancies that are wanted and intended and produce healthy children.
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as opposed to pregnancies that are unintended and unwanted, which certainly in this body and in america generally no one wants to see. so i hope that we have common ground here that an organization like planned parenthood which does so much good and the men and women of planned parenthood who have so much courage and fortitude in face of the threats and intimidation that confront them every day should be supported, not demend or dismissed. their funding should be enhanced, not diminished. and so far as enforcement is concerned, the department of justice should be doing more and doing better. it should be provided with those funds that will assist in combating and montana attorney general the violent opposition to women who are seeking fs
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services. we've seen in just the past few days the impact of that violence tragically in deaths and injuries in colorado. but that tragedy is simply the tip of ongoing and apparently unceasing threats and intimidation at many of those clinics and health care services around the country. so i say with sadness not anger but grief in seeing the horrific impacts of this violence that the services are necessary, health care should be supported and violent opposition should be monitored and prosecuted wherever it occurred, and today
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i pay tribute to the clinicians, professionals, volunteers, escorts, all who support planned parenthood and who continue their work in the face of the dangers that confront them day in and day out. i hope my colleagues will support me in endorsing senator murray's amendment so we can ensure women continue to have access to these necessary basic health care services. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: at the end of the year, mr. president, when there is so much to do, i think it is particularly important for this body to try to find common ground on difficult issues, to try to be bipartisan.
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and i mentioned it yesterday, but literally 24 hours ago, i joined with the senior senator from iowa, senator grassley, on a bipartisan effort to deal with this enormous challenge of making sure that when we have breakthrough cures for serious illnesses here in our country, that americans are going to be able to afford them. and senator grassley and i teamed up for 18 months, reviewed 20,000 documents, did an exhaustive inquiry into the new drugs that have come out to deal with hepatitis-c. and they're extraordinary drugs. the question is will americans be able to pay for them. and senator grassley and i thought it was very important to do it because this is what the future is going to be about.
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i know the distinguished president of the senate is very interested in these health issues, and the question will be as we try to get cures for alzheimer's and diabetes and heart disease and the question of hepatitis-c is it's wonderful to have a cure. the question is, is it going to be beyond the reach of the people? and senator grassley and i over 18 months were painstakingly in a bipartisan kind of way, and it's been very well received. and 24 hours ago, we were talking about that, and what i'm so troubled about this morning is right now when we need bipartisanship more than ever, we are looking at a partisan reconciliation bill which in my view will undermine women's health care in this country by denying funding to planned parenthood. and my view is to take away
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health care choices from american women that have nothing to do with abortion, particularly after the horrific acts last week in colorado is just an act of legislative malpractice that is beneath the united states senate. and i note that it's going to get the veto if it hits the president's desk. my hope is that this body will not let it get that far. it is long past time in my view, mr. president, to end the ongoing campaign to undermine the fundamental right of all women to make their own reproductive choices and access affordable high-quality health care. millions of american women including tens of thousands in my home state of oregon turned
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to planned parenthood for the routine health care services that this bill puts at risk. i have read this list on the floor before, but it appears not to be sinking in, so let me repeat it. this bill for millions of women could eliminate access to pregnancy tests. possibly gone. birth control. possibly gone. prenatal services. possibly gone. h.i.v. tests, possibly gone. cancer screenings, possibly gone. vaccinations, possibly gone. testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, possibly gone. basic physical exams, possibly gone. treatment for chronic conditions, possibly gone. pediatric care, possibly gone.
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hospital and specialist referrals, possibly gone. adoption referrals, possibly gone. nutrition programs, possibly gone. when you wipe out planned parenthood's funding, you dramatically curb access for women in this country to health care services that have absolutely nothing to do with abortion. now, i know that there is a smear campaign out there that says that that's not the case, but it is. now, senator murray and i have a proposal that has taken a different tact. our amendment says instead of putting women's health care at risk, let's do more to guarantee that women in oregon and washington and alaska and across
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the country get the high-quality care they need. let's help our health care clinics treatment more women and let's help them keep their patients safe when they walk through that door. the proposal senator murray and i have put forward in my view is worthy of support from democrats and republicans. that has always been the case. i've enjoyed talking to my new colleague from alaska and we've talked about what's happened to this question of the senate's historically bipartisan approach, which is why i spent some time talking about how proud i was to team up yesterday with the distinguished senior senator from iowa, senator grassley, on this question of making sure when they're breakthrough, blockbuster cures that people can afford them and can actually get them. those kinds of issues and
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women's health, it ought to be a bipartisan cause. it's historically been a bipartisan cause. my hope is that my new colleague from alaska, the distinguished president from the senate, is -- i'm going to continue as we've talked about that kind of historical approach. where he try to find common ground on issues like women's health care. but i also want to note, colleagues, because the reconciliation bill involves the senate finance committee -- chairman hatch, of course, chairs the committee; i'm the ranking member. but we have a significant role with respect to these public health programs, and we've tried to work in a bipartisan way. but this reconciliation bill is a rejection of bipartisanship. it's going to pump more noise
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into the echo chamber, but my view is it's going to just drive the parties further apart in this effort. i look forward to talking to our new colleague about, how are we going to get people together to work in a bipartisan way for improving women's health care? and when you create such a vitriolic, you know, fever, you know, pitch, there are obviously real, you know, consequences. to me, the politics of hostility and extremism helped spark a culture of violence. and amid that dangerous and toxic culture, a man walked into a planned parenthood clinic determined to do enormous harm. in my view, it attacks women's health. it is an attack on the american
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public, and it cannot be tolerated. it must be fought and resisted at every opportunity. in a moment when the senate has a long list of issues to wrap before the year's end and many serious challenges to face, my view is we ought to be in the business of trying to solve problems, not create more of them. it's not as if there is a shortage of things that have to be addressed. we've got plenty of stuff. so why in the world would we want to real estateject the senate's -- reject the senate's long tradition of bipartisanship and take up very partisan -- and take a very partisan turn with this reconciliation bill. i hope my colleagues will support the murray-wyden amendment when we vote on it and the campaign against women's health -- end the campaig campan against wims health and do everything we possibly can to restore the historic tradition of this body working in a
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bipartisan way on women's health. i just, without going into too much of the history, when i was thinking of coming over and thinking of the tradition of the senate, one of the first things that happened when i came to the senate is i had the opportunity to work with our former colleague, senator snowe, from maine, who was a champion of exactly these kinds of issues; choices for women, improvements in, you know, women's health care. we can have all that again, mr. president, men and women working together in the united states senate on behalf of the states that sent us to support improvements in women's health. to do that here this week, you have to support the murray-wyden amendment. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i have nine unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, i support the reconciliation bill that's before us. it will do the job. it will end the affordable care act that the american people rightly have opposed, and it will put us in a position to reform health care in america in a practical way, a commonsense way, without this monstrosity of
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1,017-page bill that was crammed in on chri christmas eve. it was a strict party-line vote and was passed despite the objections of the american people. it resulted in quite a number of people who voted for it not being in the senate or house again, and it remains a decisive issue for our country. so six years ago when polling data showed clearly the american people did not favor this legislation, they resisted it, the democratic leadership, president obama determined they were going to pass it, no matter what the people said. we're going to get this done. and they rammed it through christmas eve 2009, even though
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scott brown was elected a month later in massachusetts on a campaign to kill the bill. he had been here at that time, there would have been only 59 votes, insufficient votes to shut off debate, and the bill would not have passed. he won in massachusetts, one of our most liberal states, on a campaign that i will be the vote that kills this legislation. so i want to say first and foremost, the american people knew this wouldn't wok. -- wouldn't work. they opposed it from the gunk. they opposed the philosophy of it and knew we were going 0 have a mess on our hands. and so now we have a majority of republicans in both houses -- 54 republican senators in the senate when they were 60 senators democratic senators at that time. and we're going to move this
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reconciliation and it will end the effectiveness of obamacare, according to the rules of the senate and what we can do when it passes. but we know the president will veto it. i will just say this, colleagues -- this is an historic moment. this is a moment of great importance. six years after this bill passed -- and you can be sure the people who pushed it to passage were absolutely confident that though the people opposed it thenned this a get used -- they'd get used to it, they had real estate go along with it, it would never be repealed. but that has not happened. voters have elected members of congress to oppose this legislation. the polling data shows continued strong opposition to this legislation. and what we're going to do is establish that the elected congress of the american people, a majority in both houses, vote
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to end this incredible piece of legislation. there's no way we could have understood what was in all those pages. health care is utterly complex. it is so different. and our chairman from the state of wyoming and alabama and massachusetts and california and cities within states all differ. the federal government can't run the post office. we can't run anything very well, frankly, if you look at how we perform. we absolutely do not need to be involving ourselves and dominating health care in america. that is not the way to get better health care for our people. and it was obvious from the beginning that we were going to have high cost and difficulties, but it actually rolled out with more difficulty than people
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imagined, in the computer systems that were set up that didn't fail. we had democrats and bipartisan concern over how it was being -- how it was being carried out. and it just was bad from the beginning, and things are not getting any better. one of the most dramatic promises that the president of the united states made to the american people in september of 2009 in pushing for this legislation, he said the plan i am a nnouncing tonight would meet three basic goals. it will slow the growth of of health care costs. slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. well, that has not happened. in fact, health care costs for the insured? america are surging -- for the insured in america are surging. we've seen in alabama 28%
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increases. i'm going to read some letters from people saying what's happened to their insurance increases and high high the deductibles are before they get any benefits. so he went so far at one point, president obama did -- and this is serious. the president of the united states in order to promote his plan, he promised that his health care plan would -- quote -- "bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family." close quote. the american people didn't buy that. they've heard these kind of big-government schemes before. they want to go their doctor. they were pretty confident in their plans. they were worried about cost. so this promise meant a lot to it. the president of the united states said costs are going to come down. that meant a lot in the argument. how could you prove it wasn't so? there instinct, though, was
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correct, because it hasn't happened. the health care costs have gone up. the administration has acknowledged that many consumers will see noticeable premium increases and indeed we have when buying health care on the obamacare exchanges in 2016. according to the health and human services' own data, our government agencies, premiums will increase by an average o of.-- by an average of 7.5% for the benchmark plans by 2017 and the rates for the benchmark plan in barack obama will increase by 12.6% -- in just 23016 alone. by 2016, bluecross blueshield of alabama reported an average increase of 28% for individual plans and 13.8% for small group plans.
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these are huge costs. currently the bluecross blueshield plans cover about 174,000 alabamians, the biggest plan in the state. and the platinum plan initially proposed by bcbs, the highest coverage -- they originally proposed to increase a that 71% but later reported a final increase of 28%. the gold plan initially requested bcbs was 53%. it was finally reduced to 28%. united healthcare, the second-largest insurer in the state and one of the largest in the country, reported an average increase of 25.5%. this amounts to real money out of the pockets of real americans. so the plan is fundamentally raising costs, reducing choice,
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and is opposed by the american people. in june of 2009, president obama stated, if you like your health care plan, you'll be automobile to keep your -- you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. that meant a lot to people. a lot of people said, well, if they do all that, but if i can keep my plan, i'm not too worried about it, as long as i can keep my plan. did that turn out to be true? no, it did not. by the end of 2013, the associated press reported that 4.7 million americans received cancellation notices of their insurance plan due to the affordable care act. "politifact" in 2013 defined the lie of the year as president obama's promise that if you like your health care plan you can keep it. they just said it. costs are going down, you can
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keep your health care plan if you want to. just continued to say that. and were able to get it through. but even then the polling data showed the american people did not support this plan. and scott brown in massachusetts ran on it, in the liberal state of massachusetts, and said, elect me, and i'll be the vote that kills it. and they got it done before he could take office. so i just feel strongly about that. so we got higher premiums, higher deductibles -- great scott! i will i was just amazed at how high the deductibles have gotten. here is a communication from an individual in the birmingham area. he wrote me on june of this year. "i am an owner of a small ten-person c.p.a. firm and our group plan offered by bluecross blueshield for our family of
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five, our bc bs health insurance went up $6,000 a year last year and we are facing more increases this year. this puts our family's spending right at $24,000 a year for health care, health insurance. we are blessed enough that we don't qualify for any subsidy, and our new policy has less coverage but much higher deductibles and more out-of-pocket costs than ever before. we are currently spending 18% of our adjusted gross income on health care premiums. he's not happy. another individual from mobile, alabama, writes me. first year premiums, $300 a month. last year, 40 a $5 a month. now for 2016, my premium is to be $1,562.
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per month. i'm being penalized for having worked all my life and having a retirement, an income that puts me in the area with no subsidy. the premium is more than i get from social security. this is going to put me into an area where we decide, my wife and i, on whether or not to get insurance. there is a ph.d. who wrote for the first time in 2011, my medical insurance premiums exceeded my mortgage. exceeded my mortgage. and they have continued to climb ever since. i know we pay over $1,400 a month for medicare coverage, and it's breaking us. we need a new approach that is market driven and consumer oriented, an approach that doesn't penalize people for failure to participate in the market through a cleverly disguised fine designed to coerce participation from free
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citizens of these united states. another individual in the montgomery area, we just received notification that my place of employment -- at my place of employment that our health insurance premiums are going up at least 25% this year and possibly 40% next year. as a controller here with 100 employees, we cannot afford these increases. we have already seen our benefits reduced to try to keep costs down, but if we keep on at this rate, we will be paying even more for less coverage. that's the real world. that's happening out there. and i feel strongly about it. so what i want to say to those who are frustrated, who think nothing can be done, that's not something. what will be demonstrated today
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is that the majority of both houses of congress has the ability to pass legislation that will alter and require a complete overhaul of this plan. we have the votes to do it. yes, it will be vetoed by the president of the united states. he has rejected any and all improvements ever since the bill was passed. they fought virtually everything that would make the bill better. no changes can be made in this legislation. but he won't be president forever. we're going to have another president soon under the constitution. that's a fact. and this president can sign a reconciliation bill, and we will be able then to improve health care in america, use common sense, not create a government bureaucracy of monumental proportions and actually serve the people we represent, enable them to have health care policies that they can afford,
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helping poor people in need, helping people who are in college to be able to maintain health care policies as they do today, but rarming this entire take. senator reid said several years ago when asked did he believe in a single-payer plan for health care in america, he said yes, yes, absolutely yes. i raise that in the budget committee, and we had two democratic members say i, too, believe in a single-payer for health care in america. one said i acknowledge that this program is not workable today and the only way to really make it work is to go to a single-payer. in other words, a government-dominated health care system in america. i don't think that's the right way to go. the american people don't think that's the right way to go.
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they oppose this. they opposed it steadfastly throughout, and they are being proven correct. it's not working, and the promises made for it were wrong then and are being proven wrong every month that goes by. mr. president, this is an important vote. don't let anyone suggest it's not. it's a definitional vote. do you want to fix this broken health care system that was jammed down the throats of the american people over their objection or do you want to just continue it with no real reform and fix? that's the choice. i hope that we'll have bipartisan support for making this kind of change. and i hope and believe that if this is vetoed we will have a president in not too many months who would sign such legislation and allow us then to create the kind of positive health care system the people of this country deserve. i thank the chair.
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i yield the floor. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: thank you so much, mr. president. well, i just want to say it's been interesting to hear this debate. it's touched on a lot of things close to my heart and i know a lot of other people's, which is getting health care to our people, health care that's affordable, health care that wasn't available before, and also frankly making sure that we don't have attacks continue on an organization called planned parenthood that delivers life-saving care to americans each and every year. so a couple of points i would make is in a very strong debate i had with the senator from oklahoma, senator lankford, i stated that i was offended because i believe that, mr. president, i will go through you that the senator basically said those of us who were pro-choice are essentially supporting a crime against
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children, and he took issue with that and said he didn't. well, i want to place in the record his exact words, if i might. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: this is from the transcript. it says after talking about abortion, he said, -- quote -- "why would we continue to supplement the death of children? why would we continue to supplement the death of children? and as i look at the english language, that would be an accessory to a crime. so i stand by my words and i would say again if the issue is whether or not abortion should be legal, that's a fairish and i think if people feel it is a crime, then they ought to come down here with their legislation to put women in jail and i think that debate would be important but they shouldn't attack an organization that is legal, planned parenthood that is living within the law and 97% of
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what they do has nothing to do with choice, and the other 3% is totally legal. in my remainder of my remarks, and they will be very brief, you know, the g.o.p. has tried to repeal obamacare dozens of times. this is another time. and i do agree, we have to fix certain aspects of the affordable care act, obamacare. absolutely. in my state, it's a raging success. in california, i want you to know we have 40 million people, so this is a very big test case. we would be like the fifth or sixth largest country when it comes to economy. we have seen the uninsured rate from 17.2% in california in 2013 to 12.4% today in 2014, and we have seen more than four million previously uninsured
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californians have some sort of health care coverage. and i could say yes, we have to make sure that the competition works. what we have in place is not a single payer law. we have in place an exchange where private companies come in. the competition is important, and if it isn't robust, there are going to be these increases. so i think it's really important, and for the people who can't afford to get that insurance off covered california, which is our exchange, we've seen 3.5 million more californians enroll in medi cal, thanks to the medicaid expansion. also in this country, 30 million women with health insurance are able to access contraception without any cost sharing, and that is very, very important because i hope we would agree that unintended pregnancies are not what we want, regardless of whether we're pro-choice or
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antichoice. that's an important thing to plan your pregnancies. and in 2013, women across this country saved more than $483 million in out-of-pocket costs for birth control. so i know that there is a concern about obamacare. it continues and rages on. i think the question is do we want to make it work better? of course there are things we could do to make it work better, or do we want to go back to the days that when you had high blood pressure or diabetes, you couldn't get a policy? i remember it so clearly. constituents grabbing me by the arm. you know, my son was born with a disability. i can't get coverage. what am i going to do? people went broke, mr. president. people lost their homes. they lost their savings before the affordable care act. and as i say, nothing is perfect. nobody's perfect. not each of us, that's for sure. and not the affordable care act is not perfect.
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we need to fix it. but what we have over and over again heard from the other side is not a legitimate point. it's just an attack, screaming attack against obamacare, the affordable care act, and there's nothing in its stead. we've said to the other side let us know. well, the reason there is nothing in its stead is the underlying form of obamacare of the affordable care act is a republican idea. it's that everybody needs to get their health care and it was based on mitt romney's plan that he put into effect in massachusetts. so i could go on and on with the amazing results of the affordable care act. i mean, i've had people come up and say oh, my god, my child can stay on my policy until 26. that is amazing. i have cancer and i used to have a limit on what my insurance would pay. now those limits are off because of obamacare.
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so whether it's preexisting conditions or just kicking a child off or getting sick and then finding outguess what, that's it for you. i don't want to go back to those bad old days. i am willing to sit down with anyone of goodwill and let's fix the parts of obamacare that aren't working, that's fine, but again, what we see constantly is trying to completely torpedo it. in this case, it's by taking away the funds, and in the case of planned parenthood, it's saying we just don't like the underlying women's health reproductive laws, so we're going after the face of women's health, planned parenthood. that is an attack on women. so what we're seeing from the other side is an attack on women, an attack on reproductive health care, an attack on the affordable health care act, obamacare, which, though not
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perfect, is really saving families, saving lives. this is important. so i hope what we'll do today is support the murray amendment. if that passes, then planned parenthood will still be funded. if it fails, the president's going to veto this bill. we will have enough votes to sustain it. but it's an exercise that is unfortunate because an attack on an organization that's doing everything under the law, everything that's legal. after they had the president of planned parenthood sit for hour after hour after hour after hour after hour, haranguing her, haranguing her. a woman who really in many ways is working to save lives because when you discover an early breast cancer, i think, madam president, you would agree with me if you find breast cancer early, it's so treatable and so curable. if you find s.t.d.'s, you can
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treat them. if you find cervical cancer at an early stage, you can save a life. and this is what they're doing. as my friend, senator wide especially said, the ranking member on the finance committee, who is a champion for women's health and health in general. the fact is 97% of what planned parenthood does is these screenings, are these screenings, these important screenings, this basic health care, making sure somebody's blood pressure is okay. there are so many people who go there for their first line of health care. and the fact that they -- they are in the business of reproductive health care, 3% of their work entails that, is legal. it's legal. it's been legal since 1973. i say to my friends on both sides you don't like it. if you don't like it, come down here and try to change the law. make it a crime. do what you want. we'll fight you. we'll beat you. but that would be honest.
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what isn't honest is attacking an organization that's been in place for almost 100 years, and the rhetoric associated with it, and we have seen across this country not -- i'm not talking about colorado. the facts aren't in. but we have seen an increase in the threats to doctors, to nurses, to patients, to clinics. we have seen real problems. so what we say matters. what we do matters. i want to thank my friend who has worked so hard on this. i'm so strongly supporting the murray-wyden amendment. i think it's absolutely critical. and do you know what i love about it? you expand access to health care but you pay for it. that's really important. so let's come together over party lines. let's support that amendment and let's defeat this attack on the affordable care act which, yes, we can make it better but to
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toss it out or for to have make it unworkable with cuts we see in this reconciliation bill would be a blow to tens of millions of americans. thank you very much, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: madam president, i was listening to the good senator from california use a couple words. obviously calling the health care law the affordable care act. let's use the full name -- the patient protection and affordable care act. a real orwellian name. she used the word amazing about the act but she also accused republicans of attacking women. madam president, let me read you an e-mail i received from a 60-year-old woman in schooner, wisconsin, that describes an attack on her by the patient protection and affordable care act. the e-mail reads -- "i am a 60-year-old married female and have maintained an individual health insurance policy since retiring from teaching in june of 2012.
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prior to the implementation of the affordable care act, my monthly premium was $276.16 a month." $276. "on december 1, 2014, the premium increased by 23% to $339.68 to comply with the coverages of the public health service act. that's a 23% increase. in august 2015, i received notification that my insurance plan was no longer available and that in order to comply with the affordable care act, i would have to have new coverage effective december 1, 2015, with an annual premium of $661.94, a 95% increase." so let me just review that. prior to the affordable care act, a 60-year-old woman in schooner, wisconsin, a retired teacher, was paying $276 per month for her health care and
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she lost her health care plan. she could n no longer buy that plan but another plan was going to cost $661.94, a 95% increase in one year. today, october 31, 20, i received notification that the a.c.a. requires all coverage to renew on january 1 of every year and that effective january 1, 2016, the premium would be $78 $786.68, an increase over the december premium, which would be in effect for only one month, of 19%. so again, she summarizes. the increase in my premium between november 2014 and january 2016 is $510, a 185% increase. she asked the very legitimate question of the patient protection and affordable care
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act, she asks, how is this affordable? and, of course, the answer is, it's not. and she was not protected. she goes on, "i have worked since i was aged 16 and i've maintained my own health insurance either through my employer or individually. now at age 60, i find that i can no longer afford the $9,440 annual premium for my health insurance. my husband and i are not wealt wealthy. we have always lived modestly, saved as much as possible so we could live comfortably in our retirement. now we are penalized for that savings because our combined incomes, my husband is on social security and has income from a 401(k), we do not qualify for any financial assistance." she ends with a pretty simple sentence, a pretty simple request, a request that i'm going to try and honor today. she says, "please work to repeal this unfair act." well, madam president, let me
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review this one more time. again, the results, the attack, the assault on our freedom caused by obamacare, the patient protection and affordable care act. this 60-year-old woman from schooner, wisconsin, prime to obamacare was paying $276 per month for her insurance. she could afford it. she liked her health care plan. she probably liked her doctors. next year she will be paying $786 per month, a 185% increase. actually, 2.3 times higher than what she was paying prior to the affordable care act. and again, she lost coverage she liked. that's been the -- that's been the result of obamacare. for far too many americans. so having listened to the senator from california talk about how republicans are attacking women, i think this
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e-mail from a real person who's been damaged, harmed by obamacare in schooner, wisconsin, i would say the attack on women has come from the patient protection and affordable care act. now, earlier this morning i offered my amendment but i would like to thank senator cory guardner from colorado for offering -- for helping me -- gardner from colorado for helping me offer. it's a pretty simple amendment. it's modeled on a bill i offered in 2013, if you like your health care, you can keep it, act. we have a pretty simple amendment. it's designed to protect women who are under attack by obamacare, like this 60-year-old from schooner, wisconsin. restore their freedom, their choice to be able to buy the health care that they could afford, that suited their needs, that paid for medicine and health care with the doctor they
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trusted. that's what obamacare has taken away from the american public, from this 60-year-old from schooner, wisconsin. it's taken away that freedom. it's taken away that choice. it has cost her dearly. it has been an attack on that woman from schooner, wisconsin. that's the reality. i don't care how much lipstick you try and put on the pig we'll tall obamacare. the reality of the situation, it has done great harm to real people and it is past time, well past time, that we repeal it. i will be pleased to vote "yes" and honor her request to please work to repair -- or to repeal this unfair act. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, i want to congratulate the senator from wisconsin for his amendment that i look toward to voting on
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this afternoon, i understand. this is actual the promise that president obama made -- if you like the coverage you have, you like your health insurance, you can keep it. but, in fact, we know that has not proven to be true. and i know the senator from wisconsin, when he ran for the senate, one of the primary motivating factors was his own experience with his own daught daughter. i've heard him tell that story time and time again. and i know he feels strongly about it, as well as i know he feels strongly about his constituents who've been harmed as a result of -- of this law which has not performed as advertised. mr. johnson: will the senator yield? mr. cornyn: i will. mr. johnson: you mentioned my daughter, who, by the way, just blessed us with a granddaughter just three weeks ago. it's a very short story. if you wouldn't mind, i'd like to tell it because it it really did motivate me to run. i think it really illustrates how damaging obamacare has been and could be in the future.
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but the fact of the matter is, our child, our daughter, kara, was born 32 years ago with a very serious congenital heart defect. her aorta and pulmonary artery were reversed. so the first day of life, an incredibly dedicated, incredibly skilled medical professional, a doctor that president obama just weeks before had accused of looking at a fee schedule and accused of not -- not that individual doctor but doctors in general, look at the fee schedule and be willing to take out a set of ton sills or amputate a foot -- tonsils or amputate a foot to make a few more bucks. i mean, that charge is so offensive on so many levels because those doctors came in the first day of life at 1:30 in the morning and saved karri's life. then eight months later when her heart was the size of a small plumb and seven hours -- plum and seven hours of open-heart surgery, a team of incredibly dedicated professionals and
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seven hours of open-heart surgery, reworked the chambers of her heart. thesshe's 33 years old as a nure practitioner practicing in the same hospital where he life was saved. now she's a new mom, she made me a move granddad. so our health care service wasn't perfect prior to obamacare but it was still a marvel. and i am so concerned about the loss of freedom. we just went to renew or health insurance policy, my wife and i. we're buying it in wisconsin. and we can't buy a policy that will pay for care outside of the network. our freedoms are being restricted. if i -- if i had that health care today, would i be able to go to the specialists outside of our network and get that first-class care that saved my daughter's life? i'm not so sure. which is why it is vital we repeal obamacare and at a minimum vote for this amendment that if you actual duly like your health care plan, this amendment allows them to keep
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it. but i really do appreciate the senator yielding the floor so i could tell that story. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, i appreciate the -- getting to hear that story again. i've heard that story a number of times from the senator from wisconsin and i think it's -- it's -- it shows how personal this effort is to try to get people the health care they want at a price they can afford and how obamacare has done just the opposite. and rather than being part of this false narrative about war on women, there are a lot of women and young girls who've been harmed by obamacare, which has been -- been a disaster. so, of course, i remember being here on christmas eve, 7:00 a.m., 2009, when our democratic colleagues, then in the majority, had 60 votes that they'd pass obamacare without a single republican vote.
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and i think that was a terrible mistake. it was a terrible mistake to take something as to most americans, virtually every american, their health care, and to totally reform the health care system in a partisan way and one that could not be sustained. and, indeed, we've seen in the five years since that time that our country's health care system is in complete disarray. we've all read the headlines that describe the double-digit premium increases and the skyrocketing deductibles that make people wonder why they should buy health insurance in the first place. and i guess the answer to that is, if you don't under obamacare, you're going to get penalized. that's the individual mandate that president obama at one point said he was opposed to when he ran for president in 2008, although i guess he came to love it. but that's the way the government operates when it mandates what you do.
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it takes away your freedom, as the senator from wisconsin said, but it also uses coercion and financial penalties to force you to do something that you wouldn't naturally do because it's not good for you or your family. you're being forced to buy coverage you don't at a price you can't -- you don't need at a price you can't afford. and so the only way the government makes it function, to the extent it has functioned, is out of coercion, out of penalizing the american people and forcing them to buy something they don't want. and so it's no surprise that such a massive program of federal overreach comes with a major price tag. this is something that we haven't talked about enough. but in order to pay for obamacare, the congressional budget office estimates it will cost taxpayers more than $116 billion a year. $116 billion. over the next 10 years, that price tag totals more than $1 trillion in new taxes.
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now, i know for most of us, we can't even conceive of what that number must be but that's big, that's huge, and it's a huge burden on american taxpayers and hardworking families. and one reason people are struggling to find -- to pay the premiums for their obamacare coverage is because over the last seven years, wages have been basically stagnant. our economy has been bouncing along the bottom just barely out of the range of a recession. and so people are finding their cost of living going up, their price for footed -- their price for food, their price for health care, perhaps the only good news the past few years the price of gasoline has come down, well, because of unrelated reasons. but the bottom line is that people are struggling to make ends meet, hardworking middle-class families who previously have been thriving in
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this economy. but the bottom line is that obamacare has left the american people paying more for their medical needs while reducing access and weakening coverage. the people i work for back home are adamant that they want this to stop. and so that's the vote we will have tomorrow, to stop this huge government overreach that does not serve the interests of the people who presumably it was designed to protect and provide them access for. but with the phone calls and letters and social media posts and face-to-face meetings that i've had in texas over the last five years telling me how become has hurt, not helped -- telling me how obamacare has hurt, not helped, hardworking texans, last month i received even more letters from my constituents who are exasperated about their health care plans. i heard from texans who, for
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example, have lost their doctors and their insurance plans, for the same reason that the senator from wisconsin mentioned. they no longer ar covered certan specialties or are outside the network. that's because they've had to try to find a way to economize, so they've rerestricted your acs to doctors and hospitals. and you're being forced to buy coverage you don't need. healthy men are being forced to purchase maternity care. it makes no sense. young, healthy individuals are being forced to buy coverage to subsidize older americans. and then there's the matter of the deductibles. you know, if there's one story i've heard after another, it's from hospitals in texas who say, yeah, people are admitted to our hospital, but they have such a high deductible, it's as if they are self-insured, and many of them simile can't afford to pay
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the deductible, so we have to eat it. we have to find a way to provide them health care. but because we know they won't be able to pay their bill, particularly if it's not within the deductible. one constituent wrote saying, we were happy with our insurance but we couldn't keep it. we were happy with our doctors you but we didn't get to keep them. this same constituent said, our plans to retire early have been sidetracked by the unaffordable cost of health care. i've also heard from folks who've lost their employer-provided health insurance and are now forced to pay double their previous rate. one of my constituents wrote, "like many other company, mine dumped its retired employee medical benefits and said, go get your own health care coverage. before it was only $150 a month. now under obamacare our insurance will cost us $366 a
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month." now, that may not seem like a lot of money to a lot of people, but if you're a retired person and you're on fixed income and i've made plans for yore future, including your health care, to see your health care premiums more than ducialtion that's a big deal. -- more than double, that's a big deal. the same person continued, "i know where you stand on this issue, but wanted you to see another example of how terrible the problem is." that's a good word for it: terrible. i've also heard from other folks back home who are forced to spend countless hours of time and energy researching new plans because their previous insurance was canceled because the president and his allies in this takeover of america's health care system have said some people who like their health coverage that it wasn't good enough, and so they boskly maded so they basically made it
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illegal to continue to sell it. one of my constituents wrote and said, "i have to spnd spend my valuable time researching yet again a plan that meets my health care needs and stays within my budget. where is the 'affordable' in the affordable care act?" i think it is useful to understand that people care strongly about making this law a thing of the past. my at thi constituents overwhely want this law repealed and replaced with more choices where people can buy the health care they need at a price they can afford. that does not seem like a lot to ask. and with the increasing reports from across the country about how obamacare is hurting american families, there should be no doubt about this vote, although i predict this will be a party-line vote where all of our democratic friends who
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supported obamacare are sticking with it to the very end. but it's unsustainable. it won't work. and what we really would be more productive in doing is trying to work together to come up with what the alternative would be that would provide people more affordable care at a price they can -- and the coverage they need. but the american people have made pretty crystal clear last november in particular when they put republican majorities in both chambers of commerce that they want us to do something about this ill-advised law, misguided law. and i look forward to delivering on our promise to vote to repeal obamacare tomorrow evening before we adjourn for the week. this legislation we're currently considering would eliminate more than $1 trillion in tax increases and will likely save american -- the american people hundreds of billions of dollars in future spending. this is a time when our national
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debt is $18 trillion-plus. all we're doing is adding more and more debt to the future generations who someday are going to have to pay it back. maybe not my generation. maybe we won't be around long enough to have to neigh bill. but the -- to have to pay that bill. but the next generation and beyond will. so by appealing obamacare we can craft a better way to provide health care options that actually work for every american at an affordable price. i look forward to getting this bill passed and hopefully providing relief to millions of americans who are burdened by obamacare. i would just like to close by saying a good word about the chairman of the budget committee who has been a counselor, an advisor, and navigator of sorto many of us in this challenging procedural exercise known as budget reconciliation. i'm incredibly grateful not only for the good work he did in
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assisting us in passing the first budget we passed since 2009 -- that's pretty important -- but now shepherding us through this very difficult process and helping us, as the new majority, to keep our promise to the american people to repeal obamacare. when we do that and colloquy --e vote to pass this repeal obamacare tomorrow evening, it will be in large part due to the senator from wyoming and his able staff. this has been a team effort. there is a he no doubt about it. but -- there's no doubt about it. but he has been a leader of that team effort. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. cardin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i'd ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: madam president, as the ranking democrat on the
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senate foreign relations committee, my highest priority is america's security. so let me share with my colleagues how the climate change summit that's taking place in paris affects global and u.s. security. climate change is a global problem, and global problems require global solutions. as negotiators for over 180 nations gather in paris, i think it's important that the senate take note of this historic moment, when all countries, developed and developing, are finally coming together to tackle the global threat of climate change. the achievement of a new international agreement under the united nations framework convention on climate change in paris is our chance to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy a safer, health yes, and proper prosperous world. time is running out for us to act. as world leaders gather to find
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solutions to combating climate change, i'm reminded of pope francis' statement on our climate. let me quote from pope francis when he said, "the urgent challenge to protect our common home bring the hole human family together to seek a success stainingableintegral development. i u. urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. we need a conversation which includes everyone since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all. climate change is a global problem with grave implications, environmental, social, economic, political, and for the distribution of goods. it represents one of the principle challenges facing humanity in our day." pope francis is correct. world leaders are heeding the
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holy seat's call for collective action. we are on a course to reaching an agreement where all countries will do their fair share. 180 nations have already submitted plans to lower or limit their carbon pollution. u.s. diplomatic leadership helped spur countries like china, brazil, mexico, south africa and others, some of which were previously reluctant, to make serious commitments to curb greenhouse gas pollution and to underscore these commitments, some developing countries are also contributing to the international climate finance mechanism that will help the world's most vulnerable populations adapt to the worst impacts of climate change. china alone has pledged more than $3 billion to thissest much now that the united states has fine ally persuaded the broadest group of countries to take action, it is no longer true to
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tharg the united states shouldn't reduce its emissions because developing countries refuse to follow suit. we have gotten them all to afnlgact.pair sis the best chane of forgin forging an agreement. the united states must seize the opportunity for a truly global agreement to address climate change. u.s. voluntarily submitted its carbon reduction goals early in the process. deliberative early action which included and explanation of the national policies which will result in the achievement of our reduction goals spurred more than 180 countries t to do the same. china committed to lower its carbon emissions per unit of g.d.p. by 60% to 65% and increase renewable energy to account for 20% of its electricity generation by 2030. this will require china to build an additional 800 to 1,000 g.w.
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of nonelectric generation which is close to the entire installed capacity of all power plants in the united states. the global outpouring of support for cooperation is a true testament to the strength of u.s. global leadership on climate change. optimism and global cooperation in this effort are at an all-time high, largely due to constructive u.s. engagement. if we want to lock in this process, we must support a strong and ambitious agreement if paris. these initial pledges will not put an end to global warming. but they are strong first steps to set the international community on the path to limb the rise of temperature by two degrees celsius by 2100. continuing on our current trajectory would result in a projected warming of 3.6 degrees celsius by the end of the century. with the pledges currently on the table in pairs, we can lower that to 2.7% degrees, more than
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halfway to the 2-degree goal. these pledges are only the first weafn of actions. actions coming out of paris will give us a lasting frame whereby whereby countries can update their pledges. by implementing their initial commitments and making further investments in clean energy, cheaper renewable fuels will allow for even more ambitious carbon reductions in the future. the paris agreement alone will not end the threat of climate change but is a solid first step, one that includes countries at every stage of economic development. the private sector also has come through to voice its support for this ambitious agreement in paris. already 154 u.s. companies representing $4.2 trillion in annual revenues operating in all 50 states and employing 11 million americans have signed the american business act on climate change.
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and are voicing their support for a positive outcome in paris. it's not just governments. it's also the private sector, which we desperately need for paris to be successful. the paris agreement will help send a strong market signal for clean, renewable energy worldwide and that long-term certainty is exactly what investors need. if we don't embrace the clean energy revolution that the world is poised to leap forward i int, then our competitors will, and it will be the doubter doubterss who will be blamed for the united states descent. u.s. employment of clean technology ans energies has grown in years. recent newable energy and generation has experienced the fastest growth of all generation sectors. since 2508, the cos 2008, the cn energy has dropped dramatically. there will be more than 65,000 mega-watts of utility-scaled wind power deployed across 39
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states, nuffer t enough to genee electricity for more thank 16 million house 40*eds. the total capacity of the utility-scale solar p.v. reached 9.7 g.w.'s. this trend has continued with 15% of all electric generation capacity brought online from january to september 2015 arising from the utility-scaled p.b. there is element a limitless growth of potential in clean energy. the u.s. has traditionally led the world in energy technology development for more than a century. u.s. energy innovations brought power and light to the world, and that continued spirit of leadership is powering the global clean energy revolution. strong outcomes in the international agreement that is coming together here at paris be will be a catalyst in the clean energy revolution.
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the world is looking to the united states for continued leadership. this week's announcement of the new mission innovation initiative led by the united states department of energy, secretary moniz, that includes 19 other nations in an example of clean energy diplomacy sending another strong signal of u.s. cooperation and commitment to growing jobs and investments, opportunities in the u.s., while providing global clean energy solutions that will allow developing countries to bypass cheap and dirty power and thrive through deployment of affordable clean energy solutions. it will be u.s. technology helping the global community produce energy in a more cost-effective way nand cleaner way, creating more jobs in the united states. madam president, climate change affects us all. the people of maryland understand this. for those who live on smith island in the chesapeake bay, who are seeing their island disappear due to the more frequent storms that we are
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experiencing to the health in the chesapeake bay. but it's also a world stability issue. climate refugees are a real concern for regional and u.s. security. so this is a national security imperative. the solution is paris. 2% celsius goal will dramatically improve the environmental health of the planet helping us with our national security. energy security because we have renewables. it's a lot easier to get to and more plentiful than the fossil fuels. that helps energy security no longer dependent on circumstances in other parts of the world. yes, we will also create more jobs, particularly about the use of u.s. innovation. the paris agreement will serve as an important role toward transitioning the world which will serve as a source of american jobs and innovation and put america back in control of
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our own energy future. paris is our best opportunity to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. we need an agreement to ensure that all countries do their fair share to address this problem and to lock in years of u.s. leadership. we need an agreement to maintain the clean energy revolution that is so critical to job creation here at home and protecting our nation's energy security. but most importantly, we need an agreement to make sure that we avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change that threaten the rights of our children and our grandchildren to pursue a healthy, safe, and prosperous life. i thank my colleagues for their indulgence, and with that i would yield the floor. mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: the distinguished senator from wisconsin has
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offered an amendment dealing with the be affordable care act, and i've had the staff of the finance committee and been talking to the staff at the budget committee and, frankly, it is a real head scratcher because it appears that our colleague from wisconsin is seeking to bring back the so-called grandfathered health plans that existed between 2010 and the end of 2013. and we're still trying to sort through this, madam president, but at this point it looks to me like something of a health care frankenstein. it seeks to bring back the dead, bring the dead back to life.
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and all those plans that were grandfathered on december 31, 2013, and died on that date would somehow be magically brought back to life by the senator from wisconsin. now, many of the plans in existence on december 31, 2013, don't exist anymore. plans change continually. plans changed also in 2014 and they l changed again in the beginning of 2015. now, madam president, i'm a united states senator who believes very strongly in the role of the marketplace in american health care, but it seems to me as written, the amendment from the senator from wisconsin distorts marketplace
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forces. i can't believe that that would be his intent knowing the senator from wisconsin, but our understanding -- and we've been reviewing this amendment -- is this amendment reflects an approach to private insurance that is not the way private insurance in america works. and i come back again to my desire to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work in a bipartisan fashion on health care. that's what the distinguished chairman of the judiciary committee did over an 18-month period working with me on pharmaceutical issues. we issued an exhaustive report yesterday together. it was thoroughly bipartisan. what we were seeking to do was to make sure that the wonderful
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cures that are going to be coming in america to horrendous illnesses would also be ones that would be affordable and accessible. but the important point is that it was bipartisan, and that's the way the big health care issues have historically been dealt with. but i don't see how you can turn back the clock, madam president, on the health insurance market and somehow bring dead period back to life. plans change. that is the nature of the private insurance market. that is the way private insurance in america works. i'm sure we're going to have some more conversation about that, but i do want colleagues to know that at this point i
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would have to oppose the amendment offered by the senator from wisconsin because i just don't see how you're going to, as i say, take health plans that died and somehow bring them back to life. madam president, with that, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. roberts: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. roberts: i thank you, madam president. for the first time in five years congress has enacted a full budget that is in balance. under our previous leadership, we only passed one -- one budget, and we have to look all the way back to 2001 to find the last time congress passed a balanced ten-year budget. it is vitally important we go through the regular budgeting process to ensure we are being efficient and effective when
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spending hardworking taxpayer dollars. now that we have a final budget framework, we can have the opportunity to adjust spending, make policy changes to rein in the excesses of this administration. the first step in this consideration of the budget reconciliation bill, we have before us a budget bill that not only reduces the federal deficit, but it does so by dismantling many of the key provisions of the president's health care law known as obamacare. we are more than five years into its implementation. however, many of the same problems that those of us who were here at that time during the original debate, we warned about these things, and they are still causing harm to consumers and new issues continue to arise. we continue, unfortunately, to
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see higher costs, less choice for individuals, and higher taxes. prior to open enrollment starting, the c.m.s. released the 2016 marketplace afford ability snapshot. this shows that the 37 states that use the marketplace, and kansas is included, the cost of the benchmark plan will increase on average 7.5% as of next year. that number is more than doubled for kansans. they are facing an average of 16% increase on the benchmark plan. i would assume the same thing would happen in iowa at the state of the distinguished acting presiding officer. this is not the promised reduction in premiums that the president promised. this is simply not affordable.
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madison from oberlin park, kansas wrote to me about her family struggles and she says, "yet again our rates are going up to the point where we cannot afford our health insurance that i have had since before 2008. out of network hospital and doctors limit my ability to provide for my children and the health care that they need." madison, you certainly hit the nail on the head. even if you can afford the increased premiums to maintain coverage, the high deductibles may make it nearly impossible for you to utilize the health services under your plan. or your doctors are no longer in your network. limiting your ability to keep your doctor that you like -- another broken promise from the president. another local problem of concern for me was the announcement that
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one of the insurance companies that provided coverage on the exchange to kansas will no longer be offering plans as of next year. and this company involves nearly half of all kansans enrolled through the marketplace who now will again have to find a new plan and possibly new providers. we need to repeal this law, a law that includes more than $1 trillion in new taxes over the next ten years. for kansans household, the average impact is an average tax increase of $876 a year. we need to eliminate the individual and employer mandat mandates. the employer mandate is a stifling -- is stifling job creation, it is reducing workers' hours and it is a disincentive for businesses to grow and expand. jeff from kansas city contacted me about this one and the effect oof -- the law is having on his
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manufacturing business. he says, without an exemption from the employer mandate, i will be forced to cut my staff below 50 or let obamacare simply put me out of business in the year 2016. and he continues, "taking the penalty by not offering health care to my staff is the least expensive option in 2016 and will still put me in the red." these are not the options our job creators should be stuck contemplating -- reducing staff or facing closure. the individual mandate is set to increase january 1. individuals opting not to purchase or those not able to afford to purchase insurance next year will now face a penalty of $695 or 2.5% of household income, whichever is higher. removing this penalty -- let me point out, whichever is higher,
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not lower. removing this penalty will not only provide financial relief for these individuals but it will resoar the individual freedom of all americans to choose whether or not to purchase the government-approvee government-approved insurance. we need to repeal the so-called cadillac tax which, if left in effect, will lead to reduced benefits and increased costs for employees. we also need to remove the medicine cabinet tax -- that's the medicine cabinet tax -- a new requirement that you must obtain a prescription to purchase over-the-counter medication. you know, the things you should not need a prescription for with funds from your flexible spending accounts. this reconciliation bill eliminates many of the core provisions and the noun daition, so to speak -- foundation, so to speak, of obamacare. and without a strong foundation
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of mandates and taxes to finance this massive overhaul, we can then turn and begin to fix health care. i emphasize, fix health care, not obamacare. we need to give peace of mind to the families hurt by obamacare and the relief provided by this package does just that. so i urge my colleagues to support this bill so we can then provide freedom to all americans from the mandates of this law and give us an opportunity to pursue more patient-centered reforms that will improve access and also lower costs for patients. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: madam president, before i begin my remarks, i'd like to take a moment to express my condolences to the families of those affected by last week's shooting in colorado springs, including the family of jennifer
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makovsky. jennifer grew up in hawaii and was killed this past friday at a planned parenthood clinic in colorado in a senseless act of violence. i spoke recently to jennifer's husband paul to express my condolences to him, their two young children, her parents and her ohanna. and now, madam president, i'd like to speak on an issue of great importance to all women of the united states and that is the republican efforts to defund planned parenthood. one of my first fo for forays io politics was when i wrote my elected officials and asked them about their women's right to choose. at that time, 1970, hawaii was considering a bill that would legalize abortion and, in fact, hawaii became the first state to do so for our residents. choice to me is not something that should be restricted.
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whether it's the right to choose to end a pregnancy or the right to access birth control. having control over one's health care decisions is a fundamental right. when a woman has access to a full range of health care services, she has control over her life and her future. access to birth control and other reproductive options means that women have greater control over their economic and personal security. this latest attack on women's reproductive rights by defunding planned parenthood is a misguided attempt to demonize planned parenthood. there is currently no federal funding for abortion services, a policy that already hinders the ability of lower-income women to access a full range of reproductive options. some states, like hawaii, recognize how fundamentally unfair this is and provides state funding for abortion services. limiting the ability of women to
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access health care services at planned parenthood clinics across the country is just one part of the republican antiwomen agenda. they refuse to fund day care, family leave or early childhood education. in fact, one republican health care proposal would allow insurance companies to eliminate maternity care. what is going on here? on the one hand, republicans want to deny women access to reproductive care. on the other, they also want to punish women for having children by no not funding programs that support families. i repeat, federal law already prohibits family planning funding from being used for abortion services by anyone, including by planned parenthood. so the measure before us today does nothing more than deny millions of women across the country access to birth control and other health care services
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that are not only not prohibited but which are perfectly legal. the real work of planned parenthood is preventive health services. birth control, s.t.d. screenings and well women exams are the bulk of services provided by planned parenthood and its affiliates. defunding planned parenthood will unjustly punish women who have access to no other health care providers for their basic health care needs. the harm caused by defunding planned parenthood is brushed aside by my colleagues. they will argue that they have provided additional funding to community health stz to make up for the loss of funding for planned parenthood. this is a red herring. this limited, very limited, additional funding will not and cannot replace planned parenthood clinics and their important role as a safety net provider for millions of women
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across the country. defunding planned parenthood is nothing more than an attempt by some in congress to partnered to a fringe base. -- to pander to a fringe base. the fact is that a majority of americans support planned parenthood and support health care services for women. the continuing efforts to defund planned parenthood are false proxies for banning abortion. that is calling a spade a spade, and all that will happen is that women's health care will be put at risk. their attacks on planned parenthood must end. so let's stop wasting time undermining women's health care and get back to the real business at hand. let's fund the government. let's give middle-class families and small businesses tax relief. let's pass bills to invest in our infrastructure and our children's education. these are all things we need to do in the next week that will actually make a difference, a positive difference in the lives
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of millions of americans. i ask my colleagues to join me in rejecting this extremely partisan measure before us and move on to the real business of the united states senate. i yield back. ms. hirono: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. coats: madam president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. coats: i ask that that call be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: madam president, it is time has finally come for those of us who are seeking office to be in this united states senate in 2010, one of the primary issues that we were engaged with and heard from tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of our citizens was the concern over the passage of the affordable care act, now called obamacare and now also called the unaffordable care
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act. that was the bill that was jammed through the senate on christmas eve without one republican vote. republicans were denied that vote because the democrat party controlled both the executive branch and the legislative branch with numbers that put them in a position where they could jam anything through that they wanted without n any offse, without any amendments, without any changes, without any improvements, without any input from the other party. i think we've learned through history that when one party has total control and passes legislation, it doesn't represent what the american people want. they want debate. they want adjustments. they want the other side of the story to be told. and then they want their representatives to be able to come to some kind of consensus in terms of how we would deal with, yes, an important issue called health care for the
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american people. were they needed improvements at that time with our health care system that had to be addressed? yes, they were. was there consensus almost on both sides of the aisle, republicans and democrats, that changes could be made? but the way the american people wanted that done was for us to represent their views, to look at all the options, to have some balance and that's generally how major programs that need to be addressed successfully can be address -- can be addressed successfully. welfare reform is an example under president clinton, a bipartisan effort with both sides recognizing that changes needed to be made to a system that was not working as well as it could. by working together in a bipartisan way, we ended up with a very effective, efficient new system compared to the old system. that was not the case with obamacare.
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so throughout the 2010 period of time when i was campaigning for office, i heard the stories from hoosiers all across the state -- big cities, small cities, rural coffee shops, factories, employers, employees -- i heard from all of them about their concerns about how this would play out. you know, we were promised by the president that we didn't have to worry about losing our health insurance, that if we liked our current plan, we could hang on to it. that turned out to be totally false. we were also promised by the president that not one penny -- this would not cost one penny to the american taxpayer. now we have the contrast to what this program has cost and will cost over a 10-year period of time and it comes close to $1 trillion. so one penny, $1 trillion, a
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pretty good gap between that. and that is through the taxes that were inserted the affordable care act, the obamacare act that were supposed to cover the cost by taxing the american people of up to a trillion dollars over a 10-year period of time. we were told by the president that if we liked our current plan, premiums would not go up, premiums would not increase at all, period. trust me, take it to the bank. obviously that has not been tr true. we have now seen the rolling out of this done in an -- the most -- in a way that only the federal government could screw it up. only the federal government could fail after spending an extraordinary amount of money, well over $500 billio billion -- million to roll this thing out in a totally dysfunctional way. and today we continue to hear
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from our constituents about failed promises, about higher premiums, extraordinarily high -- higher co-payments. have not been able to keep the doctor that they had. they are paying taxes to cover something that simply has not worked. it has been a torturous process to get to the point where we have the opportunity, not being blocked by the other side, we have the opportunity now which will occur tomorrow to finally get an up-or-down vote on a reconciliation bill that essentially is designed to repeal obamacare. there have been many alternatives out there that have been tried, tested and true in terms of how we can deal with our health care system. we're not just simply walking away leaving people in the lurch. we're simply saying this needs -- this whole thing needs to be repealed so we can build a much better way of providing health care for our citizens.
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and this is the opportunity. there will be all kinds of amendments here. there will be gotcha amendments. i dare you to vote for that. they will be irrelevant to the final issue of what we are doing and what we are voting on. it will be clear to the american people this is a vote strictly on the repeal of obamacare. you're for it or you're against it. come down here and defend it if you like it, if it's worked in your state -- i haven't heard anybody coming down and singing its praises. but if that's the case, come down to the floor. this is the time to do it. say this is why we need it, this is why we good and refute perhaps what we say here, but i think it's pretty hard. i don't think i've heard anybody come down and defend the statement that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it, that it won't cost you a penny, that your premiums won't rise. we just simply know that that is not the case. and so this is the moment.
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we will be able to make our yea be yea and our nay be nay, and the american people will know steact where we stand -- know exactly where we stand and i believe we will have the votes to pass it in the united states senate as we will have the votes to pass it in the house of representatives. it will then go to the president, and the president will know where congress stands and know where the american people stand if he doesn't already. i'd like to mention just one aspect of it that has a pretty astounding impact, negative impact on my state, and that is, was the imposition of a gross sales tax on the sale of medical devices. my state is one of the leading states in the nation of medical device manufacturers, but this tax levied on their gross sales -- not on their profits. and in that sense, those small companies trying to develop something that will improve people's lives or save people's lives through medical device research and development and
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then ultimately marketing have struggled because through the development process they have to pay a 2.3% tax on everything they sell even if they're not yet making a profit. it's been devastating in terms of employment, in terms of research and development on this cutting-edge business and manufacturing that is saving lives, improving the life of people. and so critical, i think, to this vote is the medical device tax which is denying people the opportunity to produce medical devices that save people's lives and enhance their lives. we have more than 300 f.d.a. registered medical device manufacturers in indiana. it is boosting our state's economy and producing technologies that are changing and saving lives. but since the implementation,
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these companies have had to lay off workers and shelve plans to expand. one major manufacturer lined up five new plants in indiana for a significant increase in employment, significant increase in research and development and production of medical devices. simply to cover the costs that they now had to pay on the tax for their previous sales of other products. it is an egregious tax that has affected many of my companies in the state of indiana. in conclusion, mr. president, how ironic it is that obamacare, which president obama said would increase health care coverage, is actually a barrier to improving lives and health outcomes. and so it's long past time for washington to stop punishing the medical device industry and inknow -- innovators in indiana and across this country.
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i want to conclude by saying obamacare, a poorly written and poorly executed health care plan, is not working for the overwhelming majority of hoosiers in my state and the majority of americans. remember when the then-speaker of the house said, well, we really don't know what's in this plan that we've just passed. we'll have to complement before we know -- we'll have to implement it before we know what's in it. we now know what's in it. we now know what the impact has been. i've been on this floor for hours over the past five years talking about real-life examples of impact of this unaffordable health care act on hoosiers. i have given personal testimonies that have been given to me by people. i have heard the horror stories of people losing their insurance, of their premiums skyrocketing, of their co-payments putting them in a position not to be able to -- making them not able to afford health care, and just praying every day that someone in the family won't get sick because
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they can't even afford the co-pay before they get to the coverage. this poorly written and poorly executed health care law is not working, and the laws -- law's continued unpopularity is a testament to what it's meant to most american families: rising costs, poor choices, and all the innovation and things we could have done had we worked through a normal process on this are sitting on the shelf. mr. president, the time is now. it's an opportunity that we've been waiting for now for going on six years. and so when we have that vote tomorrow, despite all the chatter, despite all the attempts to define it as something other than it is, the real vote comes down to whether or not you want to continue government-run health care or
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you want to look for a better model. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: mr. president, we are on the verge of
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fulfilling a promise that we made to the american people. they selected a new majority here in the senate to repeal obamacare. in nebraska, words and promises, well, they still mean something. they are not taken lightly. and trust me, nebraskans will let you know when you aren't keeping your word. since the first day that i took office, i've heard from nebraskans about how this law is making it harder, not easier, for them to get health care. nearly 20,000 people have contacted my office, and they've expressed their concerns about this law to me. they face a new reality and struggle to afford premiums for plans requiring thousands in out-of-pocket expenses. i've come to the floor many times to share these stories from nebraskans, and
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unfortunately these stories continue to come in. vivian from saunders county in the state wrote -- quote -- "regarding the deductible on her obamacare plan which is so high it that her husband who is a cancer survivor, he's foregoing regular checkups. they simply cannot afford the cost. kevin from chapel, nebraska, he shared his experience with struggling to afford the expensive premium while still facing a $10,000 deductible. he wants answers for why his family is being forced to buy a plan that includes services that they just don't need. ann, who is from lincoln, she shared with me her struggle to get coverage for herself and her two children. after jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get health care coverage, she is now forced
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to buy an insurance plan that will take 25% of her income. that's a quarter of her income. some could argue that these are only anecdotes, a small snapshot of what's happening in the state. but let's look at how premiums have changed in nebraska since this law was passed. next year many nebraskans will see double-digit increases in their health care costs. in 2014 some nebraskans saw their premiums go up over 100%. why are we still debating whether this law has been a success? the president has said if you like your plan, you can keep it. we've all heard that. nebraskans were promised they could keep the plans that they
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liked. well, tell that to the thousands of people in nebraska who have lost coverage when nebraska's co-op failed last year. they were blind sided on christmas eve with news that they had to choose a new coverage. now many more americans are facing this same challenge as over half of the country's co-ops have failed. democrats have said this law would help the american people. americans were promised more. they were promised lower costs for health care. we were promised $2,500 decrease in our insurance costs. well, clearly, that is not the case. this is a mess, and it didn't have to happen.
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it's now our duty to fix it. i'm proud that republicans are taking the lead. we are showing the american people our commitment in repealing this law. we can do better. we can provide patient-centered health care. we can let people decide what kind of coverage they need. we can let people take their insurance with them when they move across state lines. we do that with car insurance. but the first step -- the first step is to end this, a law that costs families more money and it doesn't meet their needs. so i ask for the sake of all americans, it's time to take that next step. we need to step up, we need to fix this. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: work:work: quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i want to address an amendment that i have for the obamacare repeal bill that we will be voting on relatively soon. it's a simple amendment. i think it's an important one and it addresses part of the $1.2 trillion in tax increases that are embedded throughout obamacare. this, in particular, is a tax increase on middle-class americans who are battling with catastrophic health care challenges and costs. and so i think it was a particularly ill-conceived tax increase and i want us to repeal it. here's -- here's what the tax increase was about, mr. president. prior to obamacare, if a family had out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceeded 7.5% of
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their income, then they can deduct from their taxable income, they could deduct any cost above 7.5% of their income. obamacare raised that threshold to 10% and that has very real consequences. there was an exception for senior citizens but that exception expires in 2016. and this tax increase on middle-class americans makes it harder for families who are trying to deal with, to battle some kind of really problematic health situation that they're in. it could be a chronic disease. it could be a catastrophic event. and let me basically set an example. prior to obamacare, a family that earned $50,000, for instance, if they had extraordinary medical costs, for whatever reason, that were, say, $4,500, so 9% of their income, that's a huge medical bill for a
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family that earns $50,000 obviously. well, at least prior to obamacare, they could deduct $750 of it, that portion which exceeded 7.5% of their income was deductible. under obamacare, they can't deduct any of it. they get no deduction. so think about what we're doing. we're saying that middle-class, working-class family with unusual, extraordinarily high medical bills should lose the opportunity that they've historically had to at least get a modest deduction to help soften the blow of the catastrophic health crisis that they're dealing with. i think this is a terrible idea to hit these folks with this tax increase, especially at a time when they're dealing with this very difficult circumstances or they wouldn't -- wouldn't get
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the deduction anyway. so, mr. president, i think it was a bad idea, one of many bad ideas in obamacare. and what my amendment would do is simply restore it to where it was before obamacare, restore the ability to deduct that extraordinary health care cost when it exceeds 7.5% of income rather than having to hit the 10% threshold that obamacare created. by the way, i should point out, this is totally a tax increase on middle-class families. the i.r.s. quantified this. they determined that 86% of the taxpayers who claim this deduction -- 86% -- earn less than $100,000. this isn't a tax deduction for rich people. this is a tax deduction for ordinary americans who are going through very, very difficult times. having the ability to take this deduction is more important now than it's ever been because
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obamacare has done so much to drive up people's costs. right? that's not just my saying, this right? november 15, "new york times" headline -- quote -- "many say high deductibles make their health law insurance all but useless." that's "the new york times." well, high deductibles are one of the main contributing factors to people having a high out-of-pocket cost. so obamacare's driven these plans into these high deductibles, thereby forcing people to lay out more cash and at the same time we're saying, oh, but you can't deduct it like you used to be able to. november 2 on cnbc they reported that obamacare's cheapest plans just got more expensive. there are deductibles that are soaring to over $12,000. out-of-pocket maximums that are near $14,000. people are incurring out-of-pocket expenses like never before and they're getting
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hit with the fact that they can no longer take the kind of deduction that they used to. mr. president, this is -- it was a bad idea in the first place. it is a tax increase on those who can least afford it -- people who are sick, people who are undergoing maybe a terrible accident, some other disaster that caused them to incur these expenses. it could apply to someone who's got long-term care expenses for a relative that's in a nursing home. it could be the special education expenses for a handicapped child. it could be a mom undergoing reconstructive surgery after a mmamastectomy, it could be a chd undergoing treatment for cancer. any number of circumstances that i think we shouldn't be punishing people in this fashion. so what my amendment would simply, do as i said, it would restore the tax a deduction to e threshold that we had before obamacare.
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and i would urge its adoption. but, mr. president, as i mentioned, i think this medical expense deduction issue is really just one and it's a narrow -- it's important but it's a narrow aspect of an unbelievably flawed bill. it's hard to know where to begin with the flaws of obamacare. i would suggest several big categories of problems. the first is higher costs. the second i would suggest is the loss of employment. and the third, which is indisputable, is the loss of freedom. so higher costs i think are undeniable. the president promised us that average premiums would fall, fall by $2,500, in fact. he was confident enough to give us a figure. and, of course, the exact opposite is what has actual occurred. obamacare premiums have gone up dramatically in my state of pennsylvania. premiums are up for next year alone 11%. that's after several years of increases prior to an 11%
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increase. who do you know that's got an 11% pay raise? i don't know anybody. that's not what's happening. but yet their expenses are going up because of obamacare. deductibles are rising at the same time. so not only does it cost more to buy the insurance but the insurance covers less. i've gotten letters from literally thousands of pennsylvanians explaining their personal circumstances. one letter came from the devello family of montgomery county. before obamacare, they paid $662 a month for a health insurance plan for their family and they had a $6,000 deductible. they were happy with their plan. they were promised that if they were happy with their plan, they could keep their plan. we all heard that promise. how many times was that promise made? that promise was made to the devello family. the only slightly unfortunate problem here is everybody knew it was untrue, including the people making the promise. because the legislation
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explicitly forbids whole categories of plans. how could you keep your plan if it's being banned by the federal law? well, the devello family unfortunately experienced that and so in 2016, the plan that they are buying that goes into effect in 2016, instead of a $662 monthly premium, they're going to have to pay $1,141. and instead of a $6,000 deductible, they're going to have a $12,800 ductable. -- deductible. you almost have to wonder, what is my insurance paying for if the deductible is that bu high? but that's what obamacare has done to the devello family in pennsylvania. and let me assure you, mr. president, they are but one of thousands and thousands of families that i've heard from, from across pen, who are experiencing similar real difficulties. i mentioned jobs as another category of problem that obamacare has created. again, i think it's completely
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irrefutable. we know that if you as an employer hire a 50th employee, you are suddenly subject to all of the mandates of obamacare. that means your health insurance for your work force, the costs go through the roof. it creates a huge incentive not to hire the 50th employee. that's a terrible incentive to have. especially at a time when we have too few people working and we have inadequate wages. and yet this provision guarantees that it will be more difficult to get a job with a company that has, you know, 40-some-odd employees. in addition to that, obamacare puts pressure on employers to cut back on hours for workers because you're deemed to be a full-time worker if you work for 30 hours or more. well, one way to deal with that is to have people work fewer
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than 30 hours. the problem is, the employees, they want 40 hours. they want a normal workweek. but they can't get it because of the costs that obamacare triggers if they were to have it. thirdly is the loss of freedom. that is, again, completely irrefutable. if you had a plan that you were happy with, you had a plan that worked for you and your family, it was the right mix of benefits, premiums, and deductibles for you, and you wanted to keep that plan, well, good luck. you can only keep it if the government approves of it. so now we don't have the freedom to have the health insurance we want. we're forced to have the health insurance plan the government dictates you shall have, whether you like it or not. last thing i want to point out, mr. president, is a very fundamental structural flaw in
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the model of obamacare ... yet another reason why this needs to be repealed. and that is, this bill was designed on the -- with the idea that young and healthy people would go out and buy health insurance through obamacare at an inflated price, because, of course, in addition to dictating what is in a health care plan, obamacare dictates pricing as well. and the theory was, what we'll do is we'll have all these expensive mandates, but we'll force this category of people -- they tend to be younger and healthier -- to have insurance and that's how we'll subsidize people who need health care. the younger and healthier people figured it out pretty quickly, that they're being forced to buy a product that doesn't suit their needs very well and they're forced to pay more than it's worth. so, guess what?
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they're not doing it. and obamacare is falling short by millions, falling short of the number of these younger, healthier people that their model depended on. what's the result of that? we will, insurance companies are left insuring a population that tends to therefore be older and sicker. that costs more. so when the insurance companies lose many millions of dlrs, which i--many millions of dollah is what they're doing, they go back to, well, we've got to raise premiums even further. well, that creates a further incentive for healthier people not to buy the product. what started out expensive is even more expensive. this is known in insurance terms as a death spiral. this downward spiral where it becomes impossible to have a viable insurance poll because increasingly the only people who have buy them are people who are very sick and people who are
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relatively healthy are priced out of the market. this explains why half of all of the insurance co-ops in america have already folded. many seem to be heading in the same direction. a year from now i doubt there will be many co-ops remaining. and this also explains why increasingly insurance companies are saying, we're going to have to consider getting out of this market altogether. we're going to have to consider simply not participating in obamacare. what does that mean for pennsylvania families? it means they're going to be out of choices. if there are no insurance plans being offered through this exchange because the whole dynamic doesn't work, then how are my constituents going to get health insurance? this is the problem when the government steps in and tries to take control over an industry, in this case something so important and so personal as our health care, mr. president. so, this is a fatally flawed
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piece of legislation. it's disastrous americans have been living through in the form of losing the health care plans they want, valued, chose, experiencing much higher premiums, higher out-of-pocket costs, higher taxes on the costs that they do incur, and fewer jobs and fewer hours for those who are employed. now, in addition to all this, we see what i think is the relatively early stages of this death spiral that is going to result in probably a pretty massive exodus from this market. so, mr. president, long overdue that we repeal this legislation. i am very glad that we will be able to consider this over the next day or so. i would urge support for my amendment, which would restore the ability of people facing catastrophic costs to have the deduction that they were able to have before obamacare, and i would urge adoption of this
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repeal legislation. i yield the floor. mr. perdue: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: i rise today to speak about a massive expansion of government that is fundamentally flawed from the start: the affordable care act, better known as obamacare. we've all supermajorities. the first gave us the new deal. the second, the great society. ed third gave us obamacare and dodd-frank. in many ways these progressive, sweeping government spending programs have failed the very people they claim to champion: the working men and women of america. they come at a massive expense to the taxpayers and add to the nation's debt crisis. right now this law is saddling
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americans with more than $1.2 trillion of new taxes over the next ten years. in my state alone, obamacare is costing taxpayers over $2.7 billion. the senate's action this week will help reverse the harmful effects of obamacare and remove the law's burdensome taxes on american families. when i'm back home in georgia, one of the most frequent and sobering concerns i hear about is the insidious, negative impact of obamacare, whether it's reduced hours, increased premiums, increased deductibles, or just the mere fact that they can't get the doctor they want. i hear this more than any other complaint about what's going on in washington today. by enacting this law, president obama and washington put our health care system -- almost one-sixth of our total economy -- under government control and the consequences are now appearing to show up as totally disastrous. obamacare has driven up the cost
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of health care. in addition, premium costs and deductible costs are also up, precluding many americans from even applying for coverage. the law has eliminated health care choices, forced rural hospitals out of business, created a doctor shortage, and failed to live up to the expectations promised to the american people by the obama administration. first, georgians are seeking their health care costs -- seeing their health care costs ducialtion mr. president. -- health care care costs double, mr. president. "health care costs on the rise in 2016 and some affordable care act plans seeing double-digit hikes." the article went on to describe the peril of a georgia family that plans to cancel its health care plan because it is no longer affordable for them. this family is not alone. deductibles, as you just heard in the prior speech, have risen to the point where people can't afford the health care plan that
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was picked for them. in georgia, premium increases are expected to range from 27% to 29% for alliant health policyholders and it could even get worse as more insurance companies exit the obamacare exchange program. and deductibles are increasing seven times as fast as wages are increasing, mr. president. that's a tragedy. last week united healthcare group, the largest health insurance company in the country, announced it's considering dropping out of obamacare because it's losing so much money and the marketplace doesn't appear to be sustaining itself. as a matter of fact, yesterday united health c.e.o. steven helmsley admitted that joining the obamacare exchange was "for us a very bad decision." he went on to say, "we did not believe it would form this slowly, be this porous, or become this severe."
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mr. president, washington cannot overlook this warning. like my wife bonnie and i, many people have already had their plans canceled. no matter what the administration said when they said, if you like your policy you can keep your policy, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, i can personally tell you, that did not happen. a lot of people have lost access to their preferred doctors or were forced into insurance plans that cost more, not less, dramatically more. if united healthcare groups, the largest player in this space, exits, americans will only have less choice, not more. aside from driving up health care costs and limiting insurance options, obamacare is forcing rural hospitals out of business as well. since 2010 alone, five rural hospitals in georgia have closed, and there is a possibility for more in the immediate future. across the country, more than 50 rural hospitals, mr. president -- this is incredible -- have
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closed just since 2010, and more than 280 are in danger of shutting down. each closure eliminates local jobs and americans' access to health care. additionally, given the growing aging population, obamacare is contributing to a dangerous doctor shortage. in the next ten years alone, there is a prediction that we will have a shortage of 90,000 physicians by the year 2025. another survey by the physicians foundation found that 81% of doctors describe themselves as either overextended or at full capacity. and 44% have said they plan to cut back on the number of patients they see. they may even retire or work part-time. mr. president, this further reduces access for people who need medical care. finally, the obama administration's promise of greater access to health insurance has proven to be
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totally misleading. in fact, almost half of health insurance co-ops creating under obamacare have actually collapsed due to their failing performance. this has resulted in hundreds of thousands of americans scrambling to find sustainable health insurance for the family. and the ones that do find it can't afford the deductibles. as we've said they've risen absolutely dramatically. president obama promised that his massive restructuring to the health care industry would give more people insurance but in reality the law continues to disrupt americans' health care at every turn while failing to cover anywhere near the number of people its supporters predicted. i signed up for obamacare. i didn't have a choice. my plan was canceled. my access to my doctor was eliminated. i had no choice. but i am kowntde counted as a s, as one who signed up t for it prior to being elected. one thing is clear: obamacare is ill-conceived law
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and is hurting people and our economy. it must be fully repealed and replaced. georgians and americans want access to affordable health care options and transportability across state lines. people want to keep their health care decisions between themselves and their doctors and not have to go through a bureaucrat. these are commonsense health care policies we can debate now that would lower costs, increase accessibility and transportability and restore the sacred doctor-patient relationship. it won't be easy, but it is achievable. we need to start debating replacement plans now. there are alternatives to washington taking over our health care systemment, almost 17% of our economy. today, mr. president, for the sake of our kids and grandkids, we're taking a very important step to repeal obamacare and stop government-mandated insurance. we're also removing washington's tax on the very medical devices
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patients and doctors rely on to deliver quality care. it is quite clear that this law was flawed from the very beginning. the web site failed, access went down, deductibles went up, premiums are still skyrocketing. the obama administration is in total denial, and they misled the american people and failed to live up to the promises made during campaigns and afterwards. what further evidence do we need to realize this law, this sweeping expansion of the federal government that pushes more tax dollars to washington, is not working? in order to solve our debt crisis, we absolutely must fix this health care crisis, which is why the senate is eliminating obamacare's fines on individuals and businesses and finally sending this broken law back to the president's desk. mr. president, today is a momentous day. the this week we will actually have this vote. i urge my colleagues to put partisanship aside and do what's
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right for the people of america. mr. president, i yield back and note the absence of a quorum. i'm sorry? okay, i withdraw that suggestion. thank you. i yield back my time, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that following my remarks, the senators from connecticut and ohio be recognized for brief remarks. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. coons: mr. president, i rise today to recognize a close friend from delaware, fred sears, a community leader and a passionate advocate for all in our community, a man whose name is synonymous with business leadership and public service in my home state of delaware and a man i am proud to call my friend. fred's known statewide for his
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generosity, enthusiasm and business acumen. for decades countless delawareans recognized him. he is a true leader and embodiment of what service means in delaware. fred sears is a delawarean through and through, born blocks away from his boyhood home from what was called wilmington hospital. he attended mount pleasant elementary and wij wilmington friends school for high school. he went on to earn a business gree -- degree and had a truly memorable spring break trip with joe biden, his classmate and friend. he began a nearly 40 year career in banking. fresh out of college, fred was scheduled to interview for a job with the bank of delaware but walked into bank of trust
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instead accidentally. he was hired and rose to become the first vice president of business development. from there, fred went on to later work at wilmington trust, beneficial national bank and commerce bank. while fred was widely known as a leader in our financial services industry, he found many other ways to serve our community as well. early in his career, mayor tom maloney asked his friend fred to take a leave of absence from delaware trust to serve as the city's director of finance and then later as director of economic development. fred not only fulfilled those two roles terrifically, but decided afterwards to run for an at large city council seat in 1976. fred won and went on to serve two full terms. many of us in younger generations in politics after fred's elected service have called on his wisdom, his insight and his ability to bring people together as we had important decisions to make. so fred served on the transition teams of wilmington mayor james
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sills, delaware governor minner and cochaired my transition team in 2004. for many of us decades of success in finance, in business, in politics might be the hallmark of a complete and successful career. but for fred, these experiences were a few of the ways he fulfilled a life long passion for service in our state of neighbors. just over 13 years ago while fred was at commerce bank, our mutual friend jim gilliam jr. called friend and said i have a job for you. after convincing, fred accepted the job and since then he has served admirably at the helm of one of the most important organizations in delaware, the delaware community foundation. the d.c.f. plays an integral role in my home state helping local nonprofits direct philanthropy to delaware's worthy causes. since fred began as c.e.o. in it 2002, the d.c.f. has tripled its
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long-term charitable funds, built its assets to$285 mplets dozens of nonprofits cherished under his leadership. fred didn't join the d.c.f. just to raise money and just to be important and recognized. he rather sought to improve the entire philanthropic community and quality of community life in delaware and his success in doing so reflects his values and his vision. fred is a true leader, honest, insightful, thoughtful, creative, positive and confident. and fred possesses that rare quality, the ability to inspire others. he has used his passion for service to motivate the next generation of great leaders in our state. take for example, one of fred's many initiatives called the next generation. it's one he's most proud of and justifiably so. next gen takes groups of civic minded young professionals with limited experience in
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philanthropy and with guidance and encouragement molds them into nonprofit board leaders. since 2004 they helped direct $300,000 in grants in community needs around delaware. tony allen, who calls fred a mentor, fred and brother tells the story of how fred established the african community empowerment fund. the fund is today known as the council on urban empowerment and promotes philanthropy that supports educational, social and economic empowerment of african-american entrepreneurs. fred didn't help establish the fund, he attended every meeting of the group. in 2010 tony introduced fred when fred sears was set to receive an award for nonprofit leadership and as tony put it then -- quote -- "while patience is a virtue, impatience is a weapon and fred can be
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appropriately impatient. fred doesn't democrat muir to insurmountable tasks or tab boos copics -- topics of status quo. fred has been honored by countless organizations for his business and community efforts. he's received a lifetime achievement in philanthropy award from the association of fund-raising professionals, given a distinguished service award by the wilmington rotary club, deemed as super star in business by the delaware state chamber and named citizen of the year by the delmarva council of the boy scouts of america. those awards and merits are certainly a reflection of fred's values and many successes, but those of us who have had the privilege to work closely with fred and to know him know that his commitments to service shines most brightly in the hundreds of interactions he has with delawareans every day, whether he's offering ideas and advice or just saying a quick hello. we know that even though fred's leaving the delaware community foundation, he'll undoubtedly continue to serve the community he loves.
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in fact, fred just accepted an appointment from governor markell to chair the review commission suggesting fred has no suggestion of taking retirement literally. in a testament to fred's thoughtfulness, leadership and sense of compassion just a day after the passing of our beloved friend beau biden earlier this year, fred spoke to the bidens and offered to help the family establish an organization in beau's name. that idea became the beau biden foundation for protection of children. two days after it was launched they already raised over $125,000. if this is all there was to fred's story, it would be a remarkable one. but there is even more to fred as a businessman, philanthropist and a person. if you speak to those who have been around him the longest they'll tell you his true passion is his family. his wife jo ann, his son graham, his daughter-in-law catherine, son jason and his treasured grandchildren.
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i have no doubt that fred's retirement means he'll be spending a lot more time as pop-pop to his three treasures becoming more a fixture at their school functions and babel -- baseball games. fred adoard -- adored his mother visiting her until her passing. he loves dancing, snappy suspenders and vinyl records. fred's friend tom shopell will tell you about his love for golf and how for decades he kept track of his golf scores as his father dd. friends and colleagues will tell you that they hear fred say thank you dozens of times every day. so today i pause for a moment on the floor of this great institution to say thank you to fred. thank you for giving your time and talents over decades to more than 40 community and nonprofit organizations, for serving on countless boards from christiana
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care from the house partnership to the united way. thank you for your decades of service to wilmington and delaware, your life long commitment to family, friends and community. as our friend tony allen puts it, everyone in delaware is better off because of your efforts, fred. thank you, fred sears, and congratulations on many jobs well done. i eagerly look forward to seeing where your so-called retirement will take you next. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut.
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mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: mr. president, i ask that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i'm down on the floor today to speak to the debate that's happening now on reconciliation,
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specifically the fact that we are here for this 16th time in the united states senate debating the repeal of all or significant parts of the affordable care act. you stack that on top of the 50 or 60 times that this has been debated, the repeal of all or major parts of the affordable care act in the house of representatives. as many of us have said over and over, that we think the debate over repeal is over and that we should, a, accept the success of the affordable care act and, b, to the extent that there need to be changes made, do it on a bipartisan basis. find the ways that we can work together to try to perfect a law that is by and large working. and the data really only tells one story.
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i want to just review it for a moment because if you hear many of my republican colleagues talk , they act in the absence and the denial of the overwhelming evidence that tells you that the affordable care act is working. there are 17 million americans who have insurance today who didn't have it before the affordable care act. they've gotten it either through these exchanges, these private health care exchanges with a tax credit from the federal government, or they've gotten it through medicaid expansion. we've reduced the number of people without health care insurance in this country by 30%. just in the first few years of implementation. and that's with many states doing everything that they can to undermine the act. that's with many states refusing to accept, for instance, the expansion of medicaid coverage that could make that number even greater than 17 million or 30%. in my state where we've been aggressively trying to implement
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the affordable care act, we've actually reduced the number of people without insurance by 50% in connecticut. the total numbers in connecticut are pretty extraordinary given the short amount of time that we've had and given the fact that in connecticut we had a pretty robust medicaid program to begin with. overall cost to the federal government are under control for the first time in many of our lifetimes. the average medical rate of inflation to the federal government is about 2% or 3%. the overall rate of medical inflation is the lowest since 1960. that's because the affordable care act is transitioning payments away from volume-based payments, rewarding you for the more medicine you practice, to outcomes-based patients, rewarding you for keeping your patients healthy. quality is getting better. look at a broad array of metrics, things like hospital readmission rates or hospital acquired infections, they're all going down. but let's be clear, the
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affordable care act was not designed to fix every single problem in the health care system. there are still going to be problems. there are still going to be anecdotal failures. but if you're working to undermine the act in your state, you are going to have more problems with your health care system. and so when i hear my colleagues come down to the floor of the senate and complain about hospitals closing in their state when their state is actively rejecting federal money that would help expand medicaid and provide more people walking into hospitals with reimbursement attached to them, there is more than a hint of irony to that complaint. if you want your health care system to work, then implement the affordable care act. mr. president, senator johnson is offering an amendment which
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could be of particular harm to the people in my state and in neighboring states. his amendment would allow for plans that don't comport with the minimum coverage requirements of the affordable care act to continue to be offered. and i want to just speak for a moment before i relinquish the floor about this particular amendment. there is a little boy that i've spoken about before by the name of kyle. kyle requires for the treatment of a blood disorder injections that cost about $3,000 per dose, and he has to take them three to four times a week. because his previous insurance plan had an annual and lifetime limit, his treatment threatened to bankrupt his family. that fear is no longer a reality for his family because the affordable care act says that if you want to offer an insurance plan in this country, it's got to be a fair plan.
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it can't have annual limits, can't have lifetime limits, can't charge you more because you are a woman, it has to cover basic medical necessities like maternity coverage. those requirements that insurance plans really provide actual insurance for people and don't discriminate against you based on your medical history or based on your gender, that not only has allowed people to have access to health care that they didn't have before, but it's given millions of families like kyle's family peace of mind. the johnson amendment would take that peace of mind away from millions of families by allowing for plans to go back on the market throughout the country that would cap coverage on an annual basis or on a lifetime basis that could discriminate against you once again based on your medical or gende gender or. the one thipg that peopl pink te
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supported is that we should put people back in charge. there are a number of reasons why we should reject this specific amendment but on behalf of the millions of families like kyle's out there who don't want to go back to a world in which their insurance companies could take away their coverage just because they needed it more than other families, those families alone, their stories alone are example enough to reject in amendment. so i hope that we can move on from this debate to try to work together, republicans and democrats, to perfect the affordable care act, that we can get beyond this perpetual ongoing never-ending debate about repeal and specifically with respect to the johnson amendment, let's think about all those families who have been jerked around by insurance companies for far too long, who
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need some relief, relief that the affordable care act has given them. i yield the floor. mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i would add to the comments of senator murphy in opposition to that amendment and also to point out that one of the previous speakers bemoaned in the last ten years the number of rural hospitals that have closed in his state. i bemoan them, too. i also know that fewer of those hospitals would have closed -- or more of them would have closed if the affordable care act hadn't passed. more of them would have closed if in states like mine the governor didn't expand medicaid. we know in -- where rural hospitals closed, we i we know t many of those states, particularly with republican governors, the hospital association and many, many health care providers of all kinds including nurses and physical therapists and others asked the governor to expand medicaid so these hospitals
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could stay in business and keep serving rural people. not just the rural poor in south carolina but rural middle-class people that had insurance that were paycheck but the hospitals couldn't pay open because they didn't have the revenues coming in. instead of scoring political points, why many of these hospitals closed. so i thank senator murphy and his efforts. i come to talk about an amendment i will not offer yet -- i plan to offer probably later today -- an amendment about medicaid to help perfect the affordable care act. since the passage of the health law, medicaid expansion has helped in my state 600,000 ohioans have health coverage today, many for the first time in their lives. the amendment i will offer would perfectly extend the matching rate at 100%. some governors -- i think a bit
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disingenuously -- didn't expand medicaid because the states will have to pay up to 10% -- not even yet but 10% later of the moneys for medicaid even though the state gets all kinds of economic benefits not to mention the humanitarian concerns it addresses. but nonetheless my amendment will make it 100%. no more excuses, first of all, to refuse to expand medicaid. at a time when some are looking to halt support for medicaid, we should be increasing that support. since it's enactment in 1965 it medicaid served as a lifeline for millions of americans ranging from children and pregnant women to seniors who almost certainly would otherwise not afford nursing home care without t thanks to the affordable care act, while my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are attempting to dismantle it today, states now have the option to expand medicaid the way governor kasich, republican governor in my state did, including non-elderly adults without
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children. 36 states including the district of columbia have taken up medicaid expansion. and it's obviously mattered to a whole lot of people. federal medical assistance program determines how much the federal government will pay for covered service. it was increased for states who chose to expand their medicaid programs. states receive an enhangsed federal reimbursement for the cost of newly enrolled matchies sms that matching rate will phase down from 100% to 90% in 2020. but my amendment would make the enhanced fmap, the medicaid expansion reimbursement, would make it permanent. it was paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes. states that have expanded medicaid have experienced significant drops in the number of uninsured, the amount of realized budget savings, and they've cut the costs of uncompensated care for hospitals much the number of hospitals i visited -- recently the hospital i was born at, mans teeld
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general in fans field, they are bringing in more patients who are paying because of medicaid in the affordable care act and fewer patients for which they're uncompensated, making it easier to manage and having to cut costs a little bit less when they're too often having to cut patient services when they cut those costs. we should continue to support states that have done right and expanded access. we can do this by maintaining their current fmap rates. this policy will provide states with engines security, free up state and medicaid budgets to address other medicaid needs like increased access to mental health services or the higher cost of prescription drugs. with millions of americans falling into the coverage gap in non-expansion states, those couple dozen states that have refused to expand medicaid even though the federal government peysepays almost all of the dols for it, this policy is likely to encourage expansion of medicaid in those states. ohio is one of the first states
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to accept federal funds. i thank governor kasich, republican governor of ohio, for doing that. without expansion, ohioans would have fallen through the cracks, making too much -- they make too much for traditional medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidies in the insurance marketplace. now these individuals have affordable coverage. 600,000 in ohio. 600,000. i don't understand, mr. president how people that represent my state in the house or senate can vote to repeal the affordable care act when they have 600,000 people in ohio that have insurance. that's just the medicaid part let alone the hundreds of thousands of others. how they can vote to take away their snuns. do they know those people? have they ever looked them in the eye and saying, sorry, i'm scoring a political point. am i going to vote to repeal the affordable care act. sorry you're going to lose your health insurance but maybe we'll do something down the road to help you. 20,000 medicaid enrollees in ohio under these new provisions are being treated for cancer. these are ohioans like pam larks
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the mother of four children. had no health insurance before the state expanded medicaid, giving credit to governor kay circumshe found herself choosing between utility bills and medication. after her first stroke, she was unable to afford follow-up care or physical that therapy. but when she survived her second stroke, her coverage improved. there are so many reasons do this. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of medicaid. we should be strengthening the program that provides health insurance, good quality health insurance to millions of americans, millions of -- hundreds of thousands of people in wyoming and tennessee and south carolina and my state of ohio. we should do that, not vote to take it away. mr. president, i will offer the amendment later. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. i ask suspension of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. mr. president, i come down today to speak on behalf of millions of americans who are very grateful that they have health care now that they didn't have a few years ago under the affordable care act. and i'm reminded over the years of the steps forward that we as americans have taken, starting
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with medicare and medicaid, lifting a generation of seniors out of poverty and ill health because of lack of insurance, having access to prescription drugs, the majority of medicaid being coverage for seniors in nursing homes, about 80% of the dollars, moving forward and putting in place the ability for people to see a doctor, to get the medical care that they need, and with the affordable care act, we took the next important step for over 17 million americans, moms and dads who now don't have to go to bed at night saying, please god, don't let the kids get sick. and they know that they're going to be able to take their kid to a doctor. they know that they're going to be able to get coverage. they won't get dropped if they get sick, which was what was happening.
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-- before the affordable care act in too many cases. women now know that just simply being a woman is not a preexisting condition. -- where we are paying twice as much for basic insurance or blocked from certain kinds of things. i'll never forget the debate in the finance committee when we included an amendment of mine for comprehensive preventive care, including maternity care for women, and a colleague indicated, why should we cover maternity care? he didn't need maternity care, in which ca -- in which case i reminded him that his mom did, and the importance of maternity care for women, for children and those of us who are now adults. so that's part of the affordable care act, young people being able to stay on their parents' insurance while they're looking for a full-time job after they graduate from college. slowing the growth of insurance
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premiums, and that's what we should be focusing on today together, is continuing to be laser focused in that area as well. and now 17.6 million americans have health insurance coverage. but under the reconciliation bill, the budget bill in front of us, there -- the rug is goine pulled out from all of them, from millions of americans. passing this reconciliation bill will dismantle the framework, the structure for health care for millions of americans, men, women, and children. it also would do something else. instead of celebrating health care services that we've had for years, nearly 100 years, of preventive health care services through planned parenthood, providing essential health care
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services to men and women, particularly in areas that don't have services in rural parts of my state as well as around the country, instead of strengthening those services, what we see is an effort to actually eliminate preventive health care services for women. it seems one more time women's health care is attacked, takes on all kinds of different forms but it always ends up in the same thing. challenges to women's health care. and so i'm urging colleagues to vote "no" on this republican budget proposal that guts health care for families, that would strip funding for preventive health care for family planning and for other preventive health care. millions will lose their coverage if this passes. you know, we should be, instead of focusing on this, which is
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essentially something that we know is going to be vetoed by the president of the united states -- he's not going to allow that health care coverage to be taken away, he's not going to allow preventive health care services to be taken away, so we know what the outcome is going to be. so this is really a political exercise, i understand, that people want to say that they voted to eliminate the affordable care act, take away health insurance for people, stop funding for planned parenthood and other preventive health care services. but we all know where it's going to end. i, first of all, can't believe that people think that's a good idea to do, but maybe others say it's different than in michigan where people want to have health care for themselves and their families. but we have in front of us a whole other range of things that are very important to do right now. a major effort on a transportation bill that is in fact rather than being partisan
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and divisive as this budget reconciliation is, is something that's bipartisan. and we need to move that as fast as possible. we're working on budget issues and tax policy and other areas where we can work together. the list is long of things that the american people want us to get done. we need to be tackling the afford ability of college so that more people have the ability to work hard, get good grades, get accepted to school and go to college. but instead here we are debating whether or not people should have health care in the united states of america. and bottom line is, mr. president, that according to the nonpartisan budget office this bill on the whole would increase premiums by roughly 20% above what would be expected under current law. so on top of everything, over 16 million people losing their
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health insurance, everybody's going to see their rates go up. merry christmas. happy hanukkah, happy new year. 20% on average increase in premiums. this reconciliation bill makes no sense. it's bad for the american people. it's bad for women. we ought to be focused on those things that actually improve the quality of life and continue to improve health care and bring down costs for all americans. i hope that we will reject this and move on to things that make a lot more sense, certainly for the families in michigan and across the country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president, i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i listened carefully to your comments earlier and the comments of others who have talked about the importance of passing this bill and drawing focus again to the health care plan that's just not working. it's not working. the state exchanges are failing. they're sort of fleeing to a bigger federal exchange and the insurance companies are fleeing
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the federal exchange as well as the state exchanges. they're moving out of the family market. they're moving out of the individual market. the digest health insurance company recently announced that they were likely to abandon this particular process next year. the plan where the insurance companies would -- that had a profit would use some of that profit to offset the loss of other companies isn't working, because as others have well explained, the incentive for young healthy people to be part of this plan is just not there. the premiums are too high. the deductibles are too high. there's no reason to be part of this and there should be nothing new here. the failures of this plan were almost guaranteed whenever the house and senate decided, under the control of our friends on the other side, that we're going to pass the bill the senate
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passed when there were 60 democrats here to vote for a bill and it doesn't matter how flawed that bill was, it doesn't matter how many problems are in that bill. it's the only thing we can do and we're going to do it. and in doing it, we're going to interject the government between not only a whole lot of the economy but between people and their health care. i've said on this floor before and lots of other places, somebody told me one time that when everybody in your family is sick, you've got lots of problems. when somebody in your family -- when everybody in your family is well, you've got lots of problems. when somebody in your family is sick, you've got one problem. and so when the federal government decides they're going to help families in ways that families don't want that help, when the federal government decides they're going to interject themselves between families and their doctors, families and their health care, families and their insurance company choices, you can't
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really expect good things to happen. you know, the anticipation not too long ago was that on the individual exchange, where you go get your own insurance for yourself, that there would be 20 million people signed up by the end of last year. when that projection was made, i think there were 14 million americans on the exchange. not too many weeks ago, they were back down to 9 million. and the secretary of health and human services said a better and more realistic goal for the end of 2016 would be 10 million people, exactly half of the number that six months ago the administration thought would be there. now, what would be wrong that would cause that to happen? how could you be that far off in how you thought americans and american families were going to respond to this? you could be that far off, mr. president, by just not listening.
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you know, for the first year of implementation of this plan, i came to the floor week after week after week and week after week after week i had letters, calls, e-mails from missourians talking about how this was impacting the lives of their family. i've told those stories on this floor before so i won't tell them again today, but there are hundreds of them multiplied by thousands if you talk to anybody who's talked to anybody about this system. now, interestingly, those calls and letters and e-mails and contacts appear to be coming back because people have now decided that this is not as bad as they thought it was, it's worse than they thought it was. the problems aren't as great as they had feared, they are worse than they had feared. you know, in 2013, lance called our office and very concerned that he liked his coverage, the
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president said you could keep your coverage but his coverage didn't conform to the new standards that the federal government has suddenly decided you needed to have no matter what you thought and the federal government's decided you need to pay for no matter whether you could pay for it or not. and so he was told, you can't keep that policy. well, like so many other things this law, he was pretty quickly then told, well, no, we've figured out a way that for a year or so you could keep your policy and so lance was going to keep the policy but he found out that for any number of reasons related to this big change in health care, the policy that he wanted to keep was $150 more a month than he'd been paying for it and the deductible, mr. president, increased by $ 7,500. so like a lot of other people -- increased by $7,500. so like a lot of other people,
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he would love to have the policy he before but none of it made any sense for him any more. i got a letter a few days ago from a friend of mine who runs a business in kimberly, and in that letter, i think there were three or four employees short of 50 employees so as employers they didn't have to do that. they've always provided group health and life. they wanted to do that again but they said the prices have skyrocketed. and the way that companies now feel like they have to aggregate your employees are much different than they used to be. and particularly for older employees. if you're over 47, here are some numbers that she gave me in that letter. if you're 52, the increase this year over last year was $2,128. that's the annual increase. that's not the annual premium, mr. president, that's the annual increase, $2,128.76. if you're 58, the annual increase was $4,599.60.
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and again, that's not the cost of the policy, that's the increase this year over last year. and if you were 61, the increase was $5,680.20. and this is a company that for years has done everything they could to provide this as a benefit. it's clearly, one, a benefit they have a hard time affording and suddenly a benefit that creates a huge obstacle for older workers, where everybody used to be rated the same, they'd rate your greenhouse gas emission. now they want to -- they'd rate your group. now they want to rate the individuals in your group. the average premium has increased in my state by more than 10%. in kansas city, the increase is 20%. the silver plan, not the best plan and not the worst plan, is 13% higher.
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the bronze plan, which sort of meets the minimum standards that the administration says you have to have or pay the penalty was 16% higher. and that's just one year and this is just your insurance. it's not your higher utility bill that's higher because of another government regulation. it's not your higher this or your higher that. this is just your higher cost of not having to pay the penalty. and health and human services said just the other day, for the first time ever, the average deductible is over $2,000. now, there's a little merit to having some of your own money invested in your own health care as you make these decisions, but the average is over $2,000. but many families are now seeing $5,000 individual deductible with a maximum of two family members f. you happen to have two people sick -- if you happen to have two people sick in the same year.
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and those same families may be paying $500, $600, $800 a month or more for insurance. so you've got your insurance cost of approaching a thousand dollars a month and your deductible of -- of $10,000. mr. president, for most families, that's just like not having insurance at all. you're writing this check every month hoping nobody gets sick. if you get sick, you might have to write another $10,000 check or more. as a matter of fact, i just mentioned lance had the policy that his deductible went up $7,500 as his premium was going up $150. i spend a lot of time with the hospital community in our state. over and over again i say, okay, what's your fastest growing column of bad debt? over and over again the answer is people with health insurance. people with health insurance the fastest growing column of bad
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debt because the health insurance has a deductible that that family can't pay. if the deductible had been $500, you had that discussion, well, we can do $200 of that and maybe your mom and dad could help us with half of the other $300 and somebody else would help with the other $150 and we'll pay it. but if it's $5,000 -- if it's a $5,000 deductible, many families just say, we're never going to pay -- we can't pay $5,000. and so the health care provider writes that off. now, they're also taxing health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, other tools that people were using and using pretty effectively to have that money for ductabl deductible, te that money to off set things that they didn't want to insure against. but this is a system that just simply is designed to fail and there's no news here. there is no news here.
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every time i came to this floor to talk about this system -- and it was many, many times -- i explained why the system would fail and some of the press in my state -- at least i remember one column that was senator blunt's spending way too much time talking about the weaknesses of obamacare. this is everybody's health and 16% of the economy. it's pretty hard to spend too much time talking about those things. now, the other thing that we constantly hear is there were no alternatives. let me quickly list those and i'm going to yield the floor then to others. the things that could have been done and still could be done, things that were proposed even though we constantly hear, well, there were no other ideas out there. there were lots of ideas out there. expand health savings accounts. let those accounts be used for long-term care or long-term care insurance. let small businesses join as a group. adults -- young adults stay on
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the policy longer. liability reform. fair tax treatment. buying across state lines. the kinds of things that could happen. prohibit policy cancellation. use what were really strong high-risk pools, expand those so that people with preexisting conditions can never be shut out of the insurance market. all that fell on deaf ears and now all we hear is there were no other ideas, this is the only idea. this is a plan that's not working. i urge my colleagues to vote "yes" on this bill that puts the responsibility right back where it belongs, on the president's desk. and i would yield.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, you just heard my colleague from missouri talk about many of the things that could be used to replace obamacare. a lot of ideas that make sense when it comes to health care in this country that put patients and consumers more in charge of their health care decisions, that creates more competition, allows market forces out there to work, to drive health care prices down, which is the exact opposite of what we have with obamacare. and for those who suggest that there aren't other ideas out there, you just heard the senator from missouri go through a quite lengthy list of ideas that could be incorporated into a replacement for what has been a disastrous piece of legislation for the american people. and the reason for that, mr. president, is because after five years now, one thing is -- one thing has become abundantly clear, and that is obamacare just isn't working.
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it flat isn't working. it's not lowering premiums. it's not reducing health care costs. it's not protecting access to doctors or hospitals. instead, instead, americans are paying more for their premiums. the average cost of a family health care plan has risen to $17,545 a year. up from $13,770 in 2010. that's nearly $4,000 a year in additional costs that the typical family in this country is having to contend with. in addition to paying higher premiums, americans with job-based insurance are also facing increased deductibles. the situation is also bad on the obamacare exchanges. premiums on the exchanges will rise once again this year with many americans facing rate increases in the double digits. and then there are the tax increases americans are facing as a result of the law. while the obama administration did its best to hide the true
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costs of the law, the truth is obamacare implements almost a dozen new taxes to the tune of a trillion dollars. american families are going to face an average of $20,000 more in taxes over the next ten years thanks to obamacare. mr. president, i could go on. i could talk about the failing co-ops, the failing exchanges the taxpayer dollars that have been wasted and much, much more, but today i'd like to take a few minutes to talk about the people behind the statistics, individuals that are struggling under the obamacare. i have shared numerous letters from constituents sharing the pain that obamacare has caused them. i want to highlight just a few of the most recent. i had a constituent of mine from hill city, south dakota, write to me to tell me my premium is going from $624 a month to $1,054 per month, an increase of
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68.93%. and my wife's premium is going from $655 to 108 p -- 1,083 per month, an increase of 65.3%. i was under the assumption that the you? affordable health care act was to be just that, affordable. how can a yearly bill of $25,00e affordable to a retired couple -- end quote. that's from a constituent in hill city, south dakota. another constituent in aberdeen, south dakota, wrote to share a similar story, and i quote -- "we just received our rate increase for our family health insurance. we have been paying $1,283 a month and the $557 a month increase will bring it up to $1,841. this amount has gone from 26% to 37% of our income. after having insurance coverage for the past 38 years, we are faced with dropping coverage, which is ironic since that is
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not the purpose of the affordable care act. we are considering dropping insurance and facing the penalty just so we can continue to live in our house, pay the bills and buy groceries -- end quote. another constituent from redfield, south dakota, wrote to tell me -- quote -- my current monthly premium is $863. the monthly change in my premium is $470, making my monthly premium a hefty sum of $1,333. i think this is outrageous -- end quote. again from a constituent in redfield, south dakota. she continues to say, i quote again, i know i'm not the only one facing such enormous increases. my son who is married and has two small children has received notice that his monthly premium will increase $495, making his monthly premium $1,571 -- end quote. well, mr. president, unfortunately she and her son
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are far from the only ones to face such enormous premium increases. a constituent in sioux falls, south dakota, is facing a 50% premium increase. a deadwood constituent's premium is increasing by 47%. a constituent in millbank is facing a 62% premium increase. as i mentioned above, a constituent in hill city is facing an increase of almost 69%. more than one constituent has written to tell me that his health insurance costs more than his mortgage payments. more than a mortgage payment. one constituent told me that she and her husband would have to pay 60% of their income to insure themselves and their four children. 60% of their income. think about that. if any more evidence was needed to demonstrate that obamacare has failed, that should be sufficient. mr. president, the affordable care act may have been a well-intentioned law but it has failed to achieve its objective. not only has it failed to make
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health care more affordable, but it's actually driven up health care prices to unthinkable levels for far too many americans. south dakota families cannot afford 50% premium increases or health insurance payments that are double their mortgage payments. no family can afford that. no family anyplace in the country. mr. president, it's time for democrats to stop defending this broken law and to work with republicans to repeal it and to begin building a bridge to real health care reform for hardworking families across the country. the legislation before us today would do just that. it would give us that opportunity to move away from a health care plan that has failed, that has led to higher premiums and higher deductibles and higher co-pays and higher out-of-pocket costs and constricted networks now where you can't get access to the same providers that you perhaps could in the past, so the whole idea
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that you can -- if you like your health care, you can keep it just is not reflected reality for most americans, mr. president. the promises that were made have been broken. this health care law is a failed law. we can do much better by the american people if we have that opportunity, but it starts with repealing this bad law and starting over and putting in place a health care system for this country that creates more affordable, more accessible health care for more americans. i hope that our colleagues here in the senate will join together on both sides of the aisle and repeal this bad law. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. mr. crapo: mr. president, i rise in opposition to the obamacare legislation that we're dealing with today in an effort to
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repeal and join my colleagues in calling on the president to work with us to reform this very badly written law. by any objective measure, the president's health care law is a disaster. six years ago, at christmas time, i was here on this floor as we held the final debate and held the final vote after nearly a year of trying to stop this legislation from being forced into law. unfortunately, it was passed in the most partisan and misguided way on a straight party-line vote after virtually every serious effort to amend it and rare it had been rejected outright. since that time, the american people have felt the impact of the law. 30 of the senators who forced it through this chamber no longer serve in the united states senate any more.
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i don't believe this legislation could pass again were it brought before us. those of us who fought over it at that time raised a number of concerns and warned the american people that this proposal would result in widespread dislocation of the american health care economy, that it would increase taxes on nearly everyone, force people from health insurance plans and doctors whom they have and whom they like, push up premiums and out-of-pocket expenses and cut medicare services, finally undermining the employer-based health care insurance program and market that so many people and families rely upon. unfortunately, time and time again, we have been proven right, but in truth, today we see that the situation is much worse than even we said it would be. the president not only managed to mangle the 2013 rollout of
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the obamacare exchanges, but he repeatedly has delayed key parts of the law because of the entirely predictable problems that have arisen and made selective interpretations of the law necessary to advance the administration's political interests. the president or a top administrative official stated 37 times, and i quote -- "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." these included numerous national town halls and weekly presidential addresses. this statement proved to be politifact's 2013 lie of the year. since those statements, millions of cancellation notices have been sent out to americans across this country, including over 100,000 in idaho alone in 2013, rendering meaningless the president's oft-repeated pledge.
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in january, c.b.o. updated its estimate of the effects of the health care law, indicating that over 10 million individuals will lose their employer-based health care coverage by 2021. further, c.b.o. estimates the law will leave 31 million people uninsured, up from its original 2011 forecast of 23 million people. we're also learning that the health care consumer-operated and oriented plans, the co-op programs, are failing nationally despite receiving over $2 billion in taxpayer bailouts. today over half, 12 of the original 23 public co-ops have failed. between october 9 and october 16, four co-ops announced they would not offer health insurance in 2016, leaving 176,000 patients scrambling to find a new plan.
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the president is also annually faced with the reality of rising premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance plan. his line of argument, he again tries to lower expectations, saying that these costs are not as bad as they initially were projected to be, even though they are still going up. throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, then-senator barack obama repeatedly promised that his health care plan would bring down premiums by as much as $2,500 for the typical family. as president, he continued to make this claim, even after studies demonstrated that the opposite would occur. the truth was the opposite did occur. health care premiums have skyrocketed. for the most recent open enrollment period, the average premium increase for the mid-level silver plans on the federal exchange is 7.5%, more
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than triple last year's increase. in idaho, which operates a state exchange, the average premium increase for a blue cross idaho plan is 23%. the average premium for a regent's blue shield of idaho plan is 10%. and the average increase for a select health plan is 14%. this is after year after year of increasing health care premiums. the justification from the insurers, this is the first year prices are based on post-obamacare patients, enrollment costs and mandates, and premiums are skyrocketing. there are better solutions. to address the increasing costs and decreasing choices, the bill we have before us today eliminates the individual and employer mandates, so americans can once again choose the plan that fits their health care and budget needs. it also repeals the taxes on
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employer contributions to flexible spending accounts and expands the availability of health savings accounts. f.s.a.'s and health reimbursement accounts. these accounts are central to a consumer-driven health care system. but it's not just premiums that are increasing. people are facing higher deductibles and co-pays as well, sometimes thousands of dollars higher than before. for the lowest cost obamacare plans in 2016, deductibles have increased by 10.6% for individuals and 10% for families. let me give just a couple of examples from constituents in idaho. daniel from meridiem idaho -- meridian, idaho, recently contacted my office to explain why he and his family are uninsured for the first time in their lives. daniel is unemployed and the sole provider for his family. his employer offers health
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coverage, but the estimated cost of premiums for his family would be over $900 per month. he chose to purchase insurance from the exchange but decided the coverage was not worth a $500 per month premium and an $8,000 deductible. that's right. an $8,000 deductible. daniel's not the only constituent who has contacted my office about the so-called family glitch, an unfortunate but not uncommon flaw in obamacare which has left millions of american families uninsured. bill from boise, idaho, is a small business owner. he purchases his own health insurance and provides coverage to his 45 employees. he saw his premiums increase by 7% in 2014. by 12% in 2015. and was recently notified by his insurance company that premiums will increase by 25.6% in 2016.
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the -- bill says these increases, in addition to other regulations and mandates coming from the government, will likely cause small businesses to close their doors. lane from melba, idaho, experienced his premium increase to be over $900 per month for his family. even without preexisting conditions, his plan includes a $3,500 deductible. these cost increases come as individuals are paying more in taxes also as a result of obamacare. people may recall at the time of the debate the president stated again and again i can make a firm pledge that no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase. not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your
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taxes. you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime. well, when we debated the bill, we pointed out that there were over a trillion dollars, maybe close to a trillion and a half dollars of new taxes, most of which were going to fall squarely on the middle class. and yet, during consideration of obamacare, the nonpartisan joint committee on taxation sent me a letter confirming that there were at least seven specific tax increases in the bill which would raise taxes on middle-income american families. according to c.b.o., obamacare will cost taxpayers more than $116 billion a year in taxes. the average american household can expect to pay more than $20,000 in new taxes over the next ten years. in idaho, my constituents will pay $360 million more in taxes over the next decade or $6,055
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per household. the legislation we are considering today will solve this problem as well. it will eliminate more than $1 trillion in tax increases and save more than $500 billion in spending. and for all the additional burdens, mandates and costs consumers are finding narrower insurance networks and limited plan offerings. in his recent notice of benefit and payment parameters for 2017, c.m.s. actually stated an excessive number of health plan options makes consumers less likely to make any plan selection and that standardized options are needed to provide consumers the opportunity to make simpler comparisons. this means these standardizations will once again mandate that insurers offer consumers fewer options. to sum up, millions of americans
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are being forced from the plans they like, and the doctors and hospitals they know. they face higher premiums, higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. they navigate one of the least customer friendly web sites ever designed. they are obligated to share personal and sensitive financial information through a network that hackers have called a gold mine for thieves and which is managed by the i.r.s. and in return are paying higher taxes and seeing medicare benefits cut. mr. president, it's time that we in congress place on the president's desk a solution, a repeal of these onerous and misguided health care policies and a reform of our health care system that will help move us to achieve the true objectives that americans are asking for. helping to get a proper health
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care delivery system with a market-based delivery foundation that will help to reduce costs, increase the quality of care and expand access to care across this country. we know we can do it but we know now very clearly that obamacare is not the solution. thank you, mr. president. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to finish these remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, this week marks another milestone in the long, sordid history of the so-called affordable care act. it has been roughly five and a half years since this law cobbled together with spit and baling wire went into effect, and in a few weeks, we will reach the six-year anniversary of this -- of the initial senate passage of the legislation who would have eventually become obamacare. many of us remember those days well because we were here when
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it happened. others who were here back then are no longer serving in congress, in many cases as a direct result of how they voted at the time. still, for those of us who remain, i expect that this week as we debate and hopefully pass legislation to repeal the most harmful elements of obamacare will bring back a flood of memories. it already has for me. we all remember the absurd promises that were made by the president and his allies to try to win over the american public. if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. the bill will bring health care costs down. only rich people and evil corporations will see their taxes go up and so on and so forth. we all remember the deals cut behind closed doors to bring reluctant democratic senators onboard. a number of those deals end being so notorious that they even got nicknames -- the cornhusker kickback, the louisiana purchase, the bay
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state boondoggle and the gatorade. we all remember a sitting speaker of the house arguing with a straight face that congress would have to pass the health care law before the american people could know what's in it. more than anything, we all remember a senate majority, a super majority, as come called it at the time, that was so committed to giving their president a political win that they forced a massive poorly drafted bill through the senate without a single republican vote. they didn't need any republican votes to pass it and they sure weren't looking for any. instead they threw together a massive overhaul of a huge portion of the u.s. economy and forced it on the american people on a strictly partisan basis. not only here but also in the house. i'll tell you something else that i personally remember from that time, mr. president. i remember sitting here on the floor shortly before the final cloture vote during the senate's consideration of the bill. listening to our distinguished
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majority leader who was at the time the minority leader. it was december 21, 2009. it was late, nearly 1:00 in the morning, and the good senator stood up and offered some dire warnings for those who supported the bill. after detailing many of the problems of the -- that the bill would cause, predictions that have all come true, by the way, senator mcconnell said -- quote -- "i understand the pressure of -- the pressure our friends on the other side are feeling and i don't doubt for a moment their sincerity. but my message tonight is thi this -- the impact of this vote will long outlive this one frantic snowy weekend in washington. mark my words, this legislation will reshape our nation." and you know what, mr. president? he was right. that legislation, now a law, has in many ways reshaped our nation including in some ways i'm not
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even sure senator mcconnell could have predicted that night. yes, it has had a disastrous impact on our health care syst system. i'll have more to say about that in a moment. but in my view, it is also -- it has also eroded the public's confidence in our institutions and undermined the ability of our government to function well. by passing this law, forcing it through congress on a purely partisan basis, its proponents sent a clear message that partisanship trumped good judgment and the will of the voters. after running a masterful election campaign, president obama came into the office in 2009 riding a wave of good will and promising to usher in an era of -- quote -- "post-partisanship," whatever that was supposed to mean, and allow to us transcend ideology to focus on good government and pragmatic solutions. yet his biggest campaign promi promise, the top priority of his first term and his signature domestic achievement, obamacare,
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was the result of the largest exercise in naked partisanship in our nation's history. by any estimation, the debate and passage of obamacare deepe deepened our nation's partisan divide and drove more voters on both ends of the spectrum into deeper and more entrenched partisan and ideological positions. if made people more cynical and less trusting of our government and its leaders. it gave additional credence to the perception that politics and governing in america are more about tribalism and conflict than about providing real solutions to the problems plaguing our citizens. can anyone seriously argue that our nation is less partisan or less divided now than it was prior to the passage of obamacare? i'd like to see anyone try to make that claim with a straight face. sadly, mr. president, that's not
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all. the damage was wrought -- or the damage wrought by obamacare extends well beyond our nation's political discourse into our governing institutions as w. most notably, we've had an administration so committed to obamacare that it has on numerous occasions exceeded its constitutional authority in order to preserve t. the examples -- preserve it. the examples of overreach and abuse of power have been well documented. the obama administration has unilaterally moved deadlines set by the statute that they found to be inconvenient. they have rewritten provisions in the law to give favors and carveouts to political supporters. they have selectively enforced other provisions in order to give more teeth to their regulations. and that's just the tip of the iceberg. make no mistake, president oba obama's penchant for executive overreach extends well beyond the implementation of the affordable care act. but clearly many of the most
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egregious examples of abuse on the part of this administration were undertaken to preserve a poorly constructed health system that simply could not work the way the law was drafted. simply put, obamacare has led directly to a weakening of our constitutional order and an erosion of the separation of powers. given all of these negative consequences, the question ultimately becomes, has it been worth it? don't get me wrong. in my opinion, all of these terrible after-affects would by themselves be enough justification to undo what was done in this chamber nearly six years ago. still, if the law was working, if it was having a positive overall impact on our health care system, proponents might have something to hang their hat on when it comes to this law. indeed, if the american people now had better, more affordable health care, supporters of obamacare could have at least tried to argue that all of these
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other problems have been in service of some noble cause. of course we know the law is not working. the american people do not have better, more affordable health care under obamacare. instead, the parade of horribles that began the day the law was enacted has extended beyond our politics, beyond our institutions and into the lives and livelihoods of everyday americans. the system created by the affordable care act, so-called affordable care act, was based largely on the premise that the government could impose drastic new regulations on the individual health insurance market without dramatically increasing the cost of insurance because younger, healthier consumers would be drawn into the market, bringing down costs for everyone else. this claim was always a fiction. republicans argued at the time that without serious effort to reduce costs overall, this prized demographic group would
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stay out of the market and premiums would skyrocket due to the various mandates and regulations. we now know that we were right. younger and healthier patients are by the millions choosing to forego health insurance and pay fines rather than enter the individual insurance market. according to most surveys, many of these individuals are choosing to go uninsured because even with the benefit of obamacare, premium -- and the benefit of those premium subsidies, they cannot afford the costs of insurance. as a result, premiums are going up all over the country. premium spikes in the double digits have been increasingly common in the current enrollment period. in my own home state of utah has seen premiums go up in this enrollment period by an average 22%, which will undoubtedly wreak havoc on family budgets and local businesses.
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other states have it even worse, with premiums spiking as much as 25% 30,% -- 30%, or i in the cae of a state like south dakota, 53%. even with increased premiums, insurers are having a harder time doing business in a number of markets leading providers to exit the various exchanges where patients buy insurance with the aid of obamacare subsidies. just a few weeks ago, in fact, we saw reports that the largest health insurance company in the nation, united health group, was considering withdrawing from the exchanges entirely. the result will inevitably mean fewer insurers, which means fewer choices and even higher premiums for consumers. it's no wonder, therefore, that next year's enrollment estimates for the exchange -- exchanges are down dramatically. and as enrollment drops all of this, the costs, the reduced options and the overall state of
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care will get even worse in the individual health insurance market. this downward spiral is all the more maddening when you consider that the president promised the american people that this law would actually reduce the cost of health insurance in the united states. i'm not done yet, mr. president. there are other problems we're discussing here today. there is, for example, obamacare's massive medicaid expansion i. in virtually every days when the proponents of obamacare cite numbers of newly insured individuals under the law, most of the increase can be contributed to the -- attributed to the medicare expansion. let's be clerks mr. president. medicaid is one of the most poorly constructed programs in all of government. it is extremely costly at the federal level and even more so at the state level, where it is not uncommon for the program to take up as much as one-fourth to one-third of the state's
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financial resources. and even with all that cost, it is, in the terms of available providers and services, one of the worst, if not the worst, health insurance options in the country. some of us in congress have been working for years to reform the structure of the medicaid program in order to reduce costs, improve the program and preserve it for those who are in need. the affordable care act did not fix these problems. it made them worse. under obamacare, medicaid is more expensive to taxpayers and an even larger burden on the states. and with dramatically increased enrollment, medicaid reform is likely to be even more difficult in the future. why anyone would brag about adding enrollees to an insolvent government health program that provides the lowest standard of service in the country with the fewest provider options is beyond me.
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i suppose those tasked with claiming obamacare is a success have to cite positive figures whenever they can -- or, wherever they can dig them up. the affordable care act also increased taxes dramatically. it raised taxes on drug companies and medical device manufacturers, which have been passed directly to middle- and lower-income consumers. because that's what happened when you increase taxes on businesses that produce goods and services. it includes a tax on the so-called cadillac insurance plans, which they claim would only affect rich employees of very large corporations. the tax was structured in a way that in the not-too-distant future millions of middle-class americans would be hit by the tax and see their insurance costs go up even further. all told, there have been about $1 trillion in new taxes under
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obamacare. and while the president and his allies -- and they claim that these taxes hold the middle class harmless, the facts tell a different story. that story, of course, isn't just now coming to light. many of us on the republican side have been talking about these issues from the very beginning. i can go on and on here, mr. president. for example, the affordable care act, with its various mandate, has also increased costs to employers around the country, resulting in fewer new hires and reduced opportunities for many existing employees. many small businesses now choose not to expand in order to avoid reaching the number of employees that will trigger new requirements. at the same time, because the law perversely defines a full-time employee as one working a minimum of 30 hours, other companies are avoiding the triggers by cutting back on workers' hours.
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all of these developments, every single one of them, were predicted way back in 2009 when the law was being debated. the president told us we were wrong. his supporters here in congress did the same. they ignored the obvious warnings and now the american people, as well as small businesses and job creators, are paying the price. these issues and many, many others are why republicans have spent more thank fiv than five s fighting against obamacare. we've introduced bills to repeal the whole law, others to repeal just the most harmful elements. i personally have introduced bills to repeal the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the medical device tax. on the senate finance committee we've conducted rigorous oversight on numerous aspects of the law and the implementation of various programs. other committees have done the same within their jurisdictions. in virtually all of those, they've supported elements to
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challenge elements of the law in court. while we've differed on tactics from time to time, republicans have been united that their desire to repeal and replace this misguided attempt at health care reform. some of us have even come up with specific ideas. earlier this year senator burr, chairman freddie upton from over in the house, and i released the latest draft of the patient care act, a legislative proposal that would fix many of the things the authors of the obamacare got horribly wrong. most notably, our proposal would actually reduce health care costs. as we all know, rising costs are the single-biggest problem plaguing our health care system. yet the president's health law did virtually nothing to address this issue. unlike the poorly named affordable care act, the patient care act would actually make health care more affordable
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throughout the united states. at the beginning of this year, republicans assumed the majority in the senate having committed, even promised in some cases, to repeal this affordable care act. this week with the bill now before us, we will take a major step toward delivering on those promises. the legislation we're now debating would send the broadest possible obamacare repeal to the president's desk. as the chairman of the senate finance committee, i am pleased to have joined with my colleagues, the distinguished chairman o of the budget and hep committees, as well as the senate republican leadership, to lead this fight against obamacare. this bill would repeal the worst parts of obamacare. it would repeal the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the medical device tax, and the cadillac tax. all of these different parts of obamacare have contributed in one way or another to the long,
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slow death march we've witnessed over the past five years, and all of them would be dealt with under this legislation. the legislation would address another contentious debate, the one dealin dealing with planned parenthood. the debate over planned parenthood has perplexed congress and divided our country for years, as many people have expressed evermore opposition to providing such a controversial organizations -- and i'm being generous with that label -- with taxpayer funds. and as we all know, this debate reached a boiling point earlier this year. the reconciliation package before us would prohibit federal payments to planned parenthood and direct more funds to the federal community health centers program, putting and to the federafederal government's entanglements with planned parenthood while alleviating legitimate concerns about funding for women's health. this is yet another reason to
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support this legislation. the debate we're having this week is an important milestone in the history of obamacare, maybe even the most important milestone yet. but we need to be realistic. while this bill is an important step, it stands no real chance of becoming law. for that to happen, we're going to have to see even more changes. but that doesn't mean other efforts here are for nothing. this bill might not result in new law, but it will give the american people a fresh accounting of where each of us stands when it comes to obamacare. it's funny, mr. president. republicans have taken some flak -- not a lot, but some -- for referring to the affordable care act as obamacare or the president's health care law. the president, for his part, hasn't shied away from the label. in some respects, i suppose that
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might be true, after all, even though we constantly refer to the law as obamacare, it is not like president obama passed it himself. he was aided and abetted by his allies in congress. while it may be useful short hands to attach the president's name to it, i don't think the american people have forgotten the others who helped bring this ticial law to pass. -- bring this terrible law to pass. president obama will forever own the affordable care act. that's for sure. people will likely always refer to it as obamacare. but those in congress who drafted and voted for the law will own it, too. and when president obama vetoes this legislation, as we all expect he will, he will take final ownership of the affordable care act -- not that he hasn't in the past. but he'll take ownership of the affordable care act along with its many failures and gross inadequacies all over again. i think the same can be said for any of our colleagues who vote
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against repealing the worst elements of this law this week. i hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will think about that, as this debate moves forwards, and that they'll consider voting with us to send this repeal to the president's desk. i think it would be a very wise move on their part. because this isn't going away, evening if it the president does veto this bill. and i would hope he doesn't. but if he intends to do it, it would be a breath of fresh air for our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to help us to have aveto-proof majority, to tell the president once and for all this bill is not what we want in america. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. gardner: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, mr. president. i come to the senate floor today to talk about the broken promises of obamacare and the negative impacts that this poorly written law have had on my state of colorado.
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while there have been many broken promises of obamacare, there are been three major broken promises that are the center of focus for hundreds of thousands of coloradans. so i want to start with broken promise number one. if you liked your plan, you can keep it. the president said over 35 times that americans shouldn't worry about obamacare because, if you liked your plan, then you could keep it. and it wasn't just the president. time after time supporters of obamacare came to the floor of the house or the senate or before town halls in their states or districts and repeated those words, if you liked your plan, you can keep it. in fact, these words were used to justify the reason they supported obamacare in the first place. but coloradans quickly learned that this promise was far from the truth. in late-2013, roughly 335,000 insurance policies in colorado were canceled because of
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obamacare. these cancellations also affected my family health care plan. unfortunately, the cancellations in 2013 were just the very beginning. in january of 2014, the colorado division of insurance canceled an additional 249,000 plans because these plans didn't meet the requirements of obamacare. the president said, if you liked your plan, you can keep it. supporters in congress said, if you liked your plan, you can keep it. but what he meant was, as long as the government approves of your plan, then you can keep it. again, in 2015, an additional 190,000 plans were canceled. in total, according to the congressional research service, over 750,000 health insurance plans in colorado were canceled between 2013 and 2015.
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the fact-checking organization "politifact" said this promise was impossible to keep and went on to deem president obama's promise that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it the lie of the year for 2013. supporters of obamacare will tell you that, well, it's okay that this happened because these 750,000 individuals must have had inferior health insurance and that the government knows best. but, you see, that's the exact problem with government. that's the arrogance of government and the arrogance of obamacare. that people in the government, bureaucrats, others, believe they know better for the american consumer, what the american consumer believes is best for themselves. they believe it is okay to cancel 750,000 policies because they must have been bad and so, go ahead and cancel it. they'll also say that, well, it's all right because there are additional plans they can choose from. but that wasn't the promise of obamacare. broken promise number one: if you like your health care plan,
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you can keep it. broken promise number two: obamacare will reduce costs for families, businesses and our government. when obamacare was passed, they said the additional family will save $2,500 relatively soon after it passes. coloradans have felt that broken promise as well. take, for example, the western slope of colorado. i have a chart here. according to the colorado division of insurance, individual insurance premiums for 2016 on the western slope of colorado will rise by an additional average of 25.8%. now, there's people across america that are familiar with colorado's western slope. these are our incredible mountain vistas, our forests, national parks, ski resorts. they received a 25.8% increase in their health care costs this year. far from the promise of lowering the health care costs that obamacare was passed with. no one can afford these high prices.
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in fact, in 2013, one of my democrat colleagues in the colorado delegation even tried to exempt one of the wealthiest counties in colorado from obamacare, deciding that health insurance premiums would be too expensive. let me say that again. a member of the u.s. house of representatives, a democrat, tried to exempt portions of his district from obamacare because it was making his constituents pay too much for their insurance. here's the quote -- "we will be encouraging a waiver. it will be difficult for some county residents to become insured. for the vast majority, it's too high a price to pay." obamacare has simply made it more costly, whether you're living in the eastern plains fort collins or the western slope. plans are getting more expensive and promises are being broken.
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broken promise number three, president obama promised greater competition in the marketplace through consumer-run co-ops, yet over 80,000 coloradoans are feeling the impact of this broken compromise. to date 12 out of 23 co-ops created by obamacare have been shut down across the united states including the co-op in colorado which failed in october of this year. nationwide, the failed co-ops were loaned over $1 billion -- $1 billion that came from the hardworking taxpayers of this country that was supposed to help get these co-ops off the ground. but now with these failures, that taxpayer money is at risk of never being paid back to the people of this country and has put the health care of nearly 700,000 individuals across the u.s. in jeopardy. obamacare allowed policies to be offered that were never actuarially sound because they assumed that there would be a government bailout, a bailout by the government to help make them actuarially sound. so banking on a bailout, they sold the american people a bill of goods.
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but today we have a path forward, a path forward that is turning away from the failed health care law that has been built on broken promises. the first step of this path forward is to repeal obamacare, and i urge my colleagues to support the repeal of obamacare that we'll be voting on this week. repealing obamacare will clear the way for a replacement plan, putting our country's health care on the right track. first we have to restore the ability for individuals to choose for themselves what's best instead of big government, what's best for themselves. coloradoans don't want dr. congress. they want to keep the doctor they were promised they could keep in the first place. the best way to do this is to ensure that people get to keep the health plans that they want. and that's why i'm working with senator ron johnson from wisconsin on his amendment that simply says if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. in colorado i've heard from countless individuals who've lost their plans, plans they liked and they wanted to keep.
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they were certainly promised they could keep them. and just because obamacare can't fulfill the promise that it was sold under doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our jobs to make that promise a reality. the amendment that senator johns and i have offered would allow individuals to continue receiving health coverage on plans that would other wise be canceled because of obamacare. second we must ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly. i filed an amendment that will help recover taxpayer money that was loaned to the failed co-ops. more than $1 billion in federal loans were awarded to these failed co-ops. congress has a duty to spend taxpayer dollars responsibly, and this amendment will ensure just that. lastly, we must make sure that individuals have certainty in the health coverage that they choose. my final amendment will make certain that co-ops can't rely on bailouts when they are calculating insurance premiums, setting false expectations for consumers. several co-ops counted on these bailout provisions to keep premiums artificially low.
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because these premiums were artificially low and since many co-ops were planning on receiving the bailout, many can no longer cover their expenses, allowing co-ops to rely on a bailout was irresponsible and has resulted in nearly 700,000 individuals nationwide whose health coverage is now uncertain. so it's time to act. it's time to take that path forward. it's time to repeal obamacare, which is just simply one big broken promise after another. this path to repeal obamacare will allow us to replace obamacare with less health care regulation for businesses, individuals, and a path forward for individual freedoms and a more prosperous america. mr. president, i yield back my time. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, we're about to consider a big appropriations bill all wrapped up into one called an omnibus appropriations. i think it will be a good bill,
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but here we go again about trying to attach all kinds of goodies to it because now with just a few days left in the funding before, by the way, the u.s. government spending authority and appropriation expires, to the best of my recollection, that's about nine and a half days away, so we have got to get something done, but what's happening is that the special interests are coming out of the woodwork and they are hard at work to sneak sweetheart deals into what is a must-pass piece of legislation, the funding to keep the government of the united states functioning. so these special interests that suddenly are popping up and sneaking out the corner, they
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don't have to get the votes to get it passed through their regular order for whatever their particular interest is. they want it so that the rider is on the appropriation bill and that everybody has to vote for it with their special interests because if we don't the government shuts down, which is obviously an unacceptable alternative. these handouts, these handouts to special interests are known as appropriation riders, and most ordinary americans don't know that this stuff is going on. well, based on the appropriations bill that we saw earlier in the year, we know that many of these riders could work their way in. for example, some people,
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particularly in the banking community, don't like some of the restrictions after september of 2008 when we nearly had financial meltdown as a result of lehman brothers going down, there was a big financial death spiral going on. a lot of excesses happened during that time in the bailout so that wall street could not go under and there was legislation to correct some of those excesses. it's known by the name of the two authors. senator dodd and congressman frank. well, there are going to be people trying to put in a rollback of some of those provisions, but i hope some of our colleagues will remember what those were put in for so
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that you don't have the likelihood of having another financial death spiral like almost occurred. and remember that picture that's in your mind of the republican secretary of the treasury at the end of the george george bush administration begging the leadership of congress to pass the troubled assets relief bill to keep the financial integrity of the united states government. well, and there were a lot of excesses, excessive executive salaries that came out through that. you know all what happened to that super sized insurance company called a.i.g. i don't think americans would want these kind of things put on
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the necessary funding bill for the united states government. give you another example. another policy rider is to prohibit the united states from working with other countries to address climate change. now, we ought to in fact out here as we have -- and this senator has been in the middle of it because miami beach is ground zero on climate change. the measurements over the last 40 years are an additional five to eight inches that the sea level has risen. at the seasonal high tide, the streets of miami beach are flooded. it's a real problem, but there are some such as senator inhofe who don't believe it. so we can have that debate. i am as respectful of senator
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inhofe of his position, although i think we can easily refute it with scientific evidence, but we ought to have that debate. don't sneak it in on a rider on a must-pass gargantuan appropriations bill in order to keep the government functioning. and so there are other riders that are being discussed that are bad for the safety of families in making our highways more dangerous. we have picked up that some of the appropriators have suggested to continue the delay of important implementation of safety laws such as how long does a trucker become tired if they have to work longer and
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longer hours and is that a safety concern? as the ranking member of the commerce committee where this committee has that jurisdiction, we work on these issues. we debate them. don't go trying to sneak something in under the rug in an appropriations bill as to what is safety of the surface transportation. we just hammered that out in a conference committee on the highway bill, and the highway bill is a lot more than just highways and bridges. it's surface transportation. it includes safety measures as well for all modes of surface transportation. well, let me give you an example of another rider that's out there lurking, and this is there
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are some that want to take what are all the additional fees when you buy a ticket to fly on an airline, you ought to have the opportunity of knowing what all those fees are and on your airline ticket that you buy from the airline, you usually do. but there are others that want to sell those airline tickets. not the airlines and not disclose all of those fees. and yet, you, the consumer, are the one that is paying for it. trying to sneak in under the rug another provision that would become law on an unrelated appropriations bill. and so, mr. president, i just
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wanted to add my voice to the others that are speaking this afternoon. let's put the american people first and let's use what we hear out here all the time. regular order. let the committee system work to hammer out what ought to be in the bills instead of at the 11th hour of the 59th minute as we have to fund the government trying to sneak something in in the dead of night in order to scratch the itch of someone's special interests. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thanks, mr. president. mr. president, i ask consent to lead a colloquy with senators burr, isakson, cassidy and scott for up to 20 minutes. thank you, mr. president.
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today we're talking about repealing obamacare and moving in a complete direction toward more choices, lower costs for memberships as they search their health care plans. i came to the floor yesterday and brought back a memory from five and a half years ago, the president's health care summit. nationally televised at the blair house. 36 members of congress and the president of the united states all day long, at which i had a chance at leading off for the republican speakers that day of saying respectfully to president obama mr. president, this health care plan of yours is going to impose a huge medicaid unfunded mandate on state budgets which will raise tuitions and take money from others. it would take money out of medicare and spend it on something else. it will increase taxes. it will raise premiums, and it will cost jobs.
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unfortunately, mr. president, that all turned out to be true. now, the senator from georgia, senator isakson, was there as i was on that christmas eve. it was a cold night when the democrats had for a few months 60 votes, and they rammed through obamacare in the middle of the night with all democratic votes, no republican votes, with us warning what would happen. now, the premiums in georgia, i believe, senator isakson, have gone up 29% for individual premiums since then. and i wonder have you not been hearing from some of your constituents about their premium increases? mr. isakson: well, chairman alexander, let me confirm what you just said about that cold night, that new year's eve -- or christmas eve a few years ago, six years ago, when the administration was promising lower premiums, better benefits and that obamacare was going to be a solution for the problems of american families. but as you've said, i have
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gotten letters, you have gotten letters, every member has gotten letters from people who are having higher premiums, bigger deductibles and less benefits. let me give you an example. a family in roswell, georgia, wrote me, a family of five. they were just notified their premium is going from $849 a month to $1,075 a month, with a deductible of $11,900, an increase of $6,900 in their deductible. the mother who had a family history of breast cancer was denied mammograms because of her age and the young daughter who had a precancerous mole removed was refused reimbursement for that mole. an increase in premium, reduction in benefits and an increase in deductible. it just doesn't make any sense but it's all because of the mandates of the obamacare law. secondly, i had a young couple in smyrna who wanted to plan for their retirement, start saving in their early years of productivity. they recently received notice from their insurance company their premium is going from $670 a month to $1,379 a month, over
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a 100% increase. where is that money coming from? they are having to reduce their savings for retirement just to pay the obamacare premium and get a less benefit because their deductible is going from $2,000 to $4,000. the promise of lower cost health care and better benefits was exactly wrong,. what the american people were promised was wrong. i'm proud that senator enzi, yourself and others have led this reconciliation vote to repeal obamacare have done so. it's time the american people got the truth, better coverage, but lower cost, the good old-fashioned way with a private competitive system. mr. alexander: i thank the senator from georgia for his leadership on the health committee on which all of us serve. one of the you are in members of the health committee brings a lot of expertise, senator cassidy from louisiana. he wasn't there at least not in the senate the night that was passed but he has written forcefully about the fact that while premiums were going up, something else was going down. those were family incomes, because of the 30-hour workweek. senator cassidy, you had an article in "forbes" magazine in
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2014 that pointed out the impact of the 30-hour workweek in obamacare and how that was hurting working families. mr. cassidy: senator alexander, one of the ironies of this is that it was promoted as a way to help lower income families make ends meet better, but if you require employers to provide insurance to low wage workers, what the predictable -- a senator: will the senator use his microphone? mr. cassidy: what the predictable response of an employer who has thin margins is will actually convert those full-time workers to part-time workers. now, this doesn't happen for the c.e.o. or for the c.e.o.'s lieutenants. it doesn't happen for middle management. the folks it happens most for are those lower paid workers. i once went grocery shopping in baton rouge and a woman rung me up. the next day my wife sent me to another store to get something else at another store. the same woman was ringing me up. i said well, i just saw you at this store but now i see you at this store.
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she goes my first -- i'm paraphrasing. my first employer reduced my hours so now i have had to take a second job to make ends meet. now that's the personal story. but what the labor statistics show is that since the recession has technically ended, the hours worked per week have recovered for higher-income workers but it is for the lower-income worker they've continued to suffer, the most vulnerable, the most vulnerable has been the most affected in terms of hours worked. but it's not just the most vulnerable affected by this, it's the middle class. "the new york times" -- "the new york times" -- wrote an article this past -- or two weeks ago in which they pointed out that th the -- the headline says it all. "many say high deductibles make their health law insurance all but useless." and they quote a gentleman, david raines from new jersey, i think that he's 60 years old. he says the deductible, $3,000 a
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year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor. we have insurance but can't afford to use it. and so it's the middle-income worker who has also had a policy which previously would allow him or her to go to the doctor. now they can't because the way that obamacare is so structured is that it is too expensive, that out-of-pocket first exposure. mr. alexander: what you're saying, if i hear you right, that in the worse of circumstances, the effect of obamacare on some of the people you're talk with means they're working fewer hours, so they have less money, their insurance premium is higher and so is their deductible. that's the effect? mr. cassidy: in items of insurance premiums, you can't make this up. this is a fellow from homeland, louisiana. first name is mad. we scratched out -- first name is mark. we scratched out his last name. and this is his letter from blue cross/blue shield of louisiana. to if nymph that his policy, which had previously been $207
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per month, was going up to $961 in 2016. his policy has been roughly $2,400 a year is going up to $11,500 a year and they -- and this is because of the affordable -- the unaffordable care act. mr. alexander: the essential problem with obamacare for people who buy individual insurance, seems to be to me, senator isakson, that washington tells you what insurance to buy. i think of a woman named emily in middle tennessee who wrote me, who has lupus, who had a policy that she could afford. it had modest benefits and it didn't cost very much but it fit her needs. but obamacare canceled that policy and when she went on-line to find another policy, her costs went up from -- from $100 to $400 a month.
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i guess you've heard stories like that as well in georgia? mr. isakson: all the time. because what happened with obamacare is the following. people that had insurance they could afford and had bought coverage they needed were forced to buy coverage they didn't need because of the mandates in obamacare in terms of what had to be included. so it forced more coverage that you didn't need, which raised the premium that you paid so you ended up paying more and getting less, which was the mandates of obamacare that did it. mr. alexander: senator candy, of course, has a -- senator cassidy, of course, has a unique perspective as a practicing physician. i think he still practices some, as much as he can within the senate rules, but he sees patients regularly. what was the affect of this new health care law 5 1/2 years ago on the ability of patients to choose their own physicians? mr. cassidy: well, the way that the market has responded in order to make insurance affordable, despite the mandates, because they're so-called narrow networks. and so someone signs for up the most affordable policy that they can get. turns out their doctor, who they previously saw, is not on this
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plan. and so the narrow network is going to be just a small set of doctors. the specialist may be in another town. one hospital, not all hospitals, and patients were unfamiliar with this. they did not expect it. but that was their only affordable option. the mandates have driven up the costs so much -- by the way, going u back to the letter you got about the mandated benefits. in my recent campaign, i had a woman walk up to me, and she goes, my name is tina and i'm angry. i've had a hysterectomy. i'm 56 years old and i have no children. my husband and i are paying $500 more a month for insurance which we cannot afford and i'm paying for pediatric dentistry and i'm paying for obstetrical services. no hysterectomy, 56 years old and no children. or as another told me who was 58 and her husband 57. the only reason i would knee obstetrical services, which i'm
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forced to buy, is if my name is sarah and my husband is abraham. but that's not the case. [laughter] mr. alexander: i would say senator isakson before he came to the senate was a small businessman in georgia. and probably the largest employer in our country are -- is the hospitality industry, restaurants, hotels, that sort of thing, employing many young people, in my north people. i met with -- in my north people. i met with a number of -- minority people. i met with i number of restaurant owners who met with me after imair after obamacare t because of the costs of health insurance, that their goal would be in a restaurant to reduce the employees from 90 to 70. so obamacare cost jobs. did you hear that kind of experience in georgia? mr. isakson: not only did it cost jobs but it forced many people who had full-time jobs into part-time jobs because of the mandates. small business got hurt and their employees got hurt. the mandates of obamacare for
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coverage, mandates for taxation, mandates for deductibles all contributed to the increasing costs of obamacare and made health care more out of the reach rather than more accessible. mr. alexander: in memphis -- and mem sphis proud omemphis is prot that it is a leading device innovation. some of the leading companies in the world are located in memphis, centurion. and the -- the -- memphis, tennessee. and the obamacare bill, part of its trillion-dollar in new taxes, included a medical device tax which put an especially onerous tax on the gross income of medical devices, causing the president of costa rica to put up signs saying "welcome to cost rea" to medical device companies. i wonder if in louisiana or georgia had you any experience with the impact of the medical device tax on your constituents? mr. cassidy cassidy: there's a w who started a medical device
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start-up in new orleans. and he was saying that he has been offered to move his business to panama because a major portion of his market is overseas. and so the medical device tax is, of course, a tax upon the gross of a business. if he moves overseas to panama, taking those jobs with him, and he continues to sell internationally, not pay tax on that, but only tax on that which he brings back to the united states, well, then he's obviously reducing his tax burden. those are high-paying, white-collar jobs in new orlea new orleans, a city recovering from katrina. and if the power to tax is the power to destroy, this tax has the power to destroy the ability of this gentleman to continue to expand in new orleans. mr. alexander: one of the -- senator isakson, i recall one of the most vigorous debates we had 5 1/2 years ago was, first, the president promised that we won't touch medicare. next thing you know, they took
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$700 million out of medicare to spend on new programs. at a time when the medicare trustees, whose job it is to tell us things like this, said the program is going to go broke unless we did something about it. wwe were saying, if you're going to take money away from grandma's medicare, you better spend it on grandma. but they didn't. and so they've impacted medicare recipients in georgia and tennessee and louisiana. mr. isakson: well, the president basically robbed peter to pay peter. he robbed the beneficiary of medicare benefits and then took the money to pay benefits and spent the money on somebody else. so the person who had the benefit didn't have the benefit any longer. the problem with this entire deal was it was a charade. promises were made if you like your policy, you can keep it. turned out to be wrong. premiums were going to go down. turned out to be wrong. if you couldn't get insurance, you will be able to get insurance. well, that ended up being true to a part because became something known as a bronze policy. that was a policy that gave you coverage but the deductible was so big you couldn't get to the coverage. so every time there was a promise, there was a broken promised, increased costs and
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less accessibility to coverage. mr. alexander: mr. president, how much time remains in our colloquy? the presiding officer: six minutes remaining. mr. alexander: i'd like to ask, we've heard a loft news lately about co-ops -- a lot of news lately about co-ops. this was in obamacare designed to offer health care to many americans. i know that in south carolina, for example, closures of these co-ops forced 67,000 south carolinians, tennessee, 27,000 tennesseans, suddenly to have to find new coverage. i wonder if neither louisiana or georgia you've had any experience with the new co-ops in the obamacare plan? mr. cassidy: louisiana's co-op failed. it attempted to lower costs with a skinny network but ultimately it still could not compete. if i may kind of point out,
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we've talked about how the low-wage worker has had her opportunities diminished by this law. we've discussed how the middle-class family, oftentimes having insurance they were told they could keep, lost it and now they have deductibles of $3,000 which they will say makes the insurance something they cannot afford. and now we're speaking about the u.s. taxpayer. the u.s. taxpayer, who has put billions towards these co-ops. there is some evidence the administration continued to put money into them even when they knew that they were going to fail and yet now they are failing. over half. and supposedly more slated to do so. so it isn't just the low-wage worker, the middle-class family, it is all of us taxpayers who have taken a hit for promises made with promises broken. mr. alexander: during our debate 5 1/2 years ago and at the health care summit at the blair house, sometimes our democratic friends would say, well, when are your republicans going to
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come up with a big, comprehensive plan? and my answer to them was, if you're waiting for senator mcconnell to roll a wheelbarrow on to the senate floor with a 2,700-page mcconnell-care bill, you're going to be waiting until the sky turns pepper he will because we don't believe in that. we don't think we're wise enough in washington, d.c. to write a comprehensive plan for everything about the american health care for all the people in this country. instead, what we propose to do -- and we proposed it over and over and over again -- was to move step by step in a different direction toward more choices, more freedom and lower costs. in fact, i countered it up, mr. president, 173 times in the "congressional record" in the year 2009. we republicans laid out our plans for step-by-step toward -- toward -- toward those costs. steps like the step that senator scott from south carolina did persuade in a bipartisan way just this year to free small
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businesses -- to free states with the ability to set the rates for the kind of insurance small businesses could buy and avoided an 18% increase in premiums. those are the kind of steps that we would take in a different direction to give the american people those costs. so our -- those -- there are those options. so our time has expired for the colloquy. i want to thank the senator from georgia, senator isakson, the senator from louisiana, senator cassidy. we republicans said 5 1/2 years ago that premiums would go up, taxes would go up, jobs would be lost, state budgets would be burdened by medicaid -- all of that turned out to be true, unfortunately. the president said, if you like your plan, you can keep it. that turned out to be untrue, unfortunately. we're prepared to go in a different direction -- more choices, more freedom, lower costs. but first this week we're going to repeal obamacare, which has
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cost such problems for the -- caused such problems for the american people, and then we'll head in a different direction. i thank the president. i yield the floor. mr. isakson: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold that request? mr. isakson: i withdraw the emplorequest. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that my intern, jeff seifeld, and my intern, maria givens be given access to the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you very much. and i also ask unanimous consent to conduct a colloquy my colleagues from massachusetts and florida over roughly the next 30 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. seven years ago, wall street
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imploded, sending us into a recession that we haven't seen since the great depression. while our economy has slowly bounced back, the memory of that crisis is still fresh in the minds of many americans. millions of whom lost their jo jobs. millions of whom lost their homes. and millions of whom lost their retirement savings. nobody wants to repeat the financial collapse, the bailou bailouts, the reare session -- the recession. indeed, we've spent those six years digging out of the hole. but despite this, republican colleagues are at this very moment are holding meetings, preparing policy riders to gut the reforms that shut down the wall street casino. they're working to open up that casino again, to the great detriment of families across this country. their goal is to add poison pill policy riders to the fy 2016
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fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills that may well be consolidated into an omnibus. that's why i'm here on my -- on the floor with my colleagues from rhode island and from massachusetts, colleague bill nelson from florida spoke earlier about these issues. we are they're say "no" to these policy riledders that ar rileddy riders that are seeking to reopen the wall street casino and put american families at peril. so to start things off, i'd like to turn to my colleague from rhode island, who has brought great expertise and diligence to this conversation over the responsible regulations, the ones that serve like the traffic signals that enable traffic to move slowly, so we don't end up in auto wrecks, but they don't shut it down -- the responsible regulations that will keep us from having another crash doing
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great damage to american families. mr. reed: thank you very much, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague from oregon for his leadership on this issue and my colleagues who are going to join us later. and i am joining him in urging all of our colleagues in the senate not to roll back the protections that are in place due to the dodd-frank wall street consumer protection act of 2010. let me remind everyone where we've come from. when we passed the wall street reform act, the dodd-frank act, we were in the most painful financial crisis since the great depression. the dow jones dropped from 13700 points to 7,233 points by march of 2009, about a 47% drop in the wealth, as indicated i by the
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stock market, a huge, huge hit much the line was, what's happening to your 201-k plan? we've come back. one reason is because dodd-frank has now provided safer roads. we lost jobs from january 2008 to january 2010, 8 million jobs lost primarily because wall street lost its way, frankly. the unemployment rate doubled from 5% in january of 2008 to 10% in october of 2009. we've lost in that period of time roughly from 2007 to november of 2014, 7.5 million families lost their homes. and these are sobering numbers. and behind each of these numbers is an individual family, our constituents, who suffered real
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and serious damages and, again, traceable almost directly back to excesses on wall street, that we consciously tried to correct in the dodd-frank act and it provided a significant foundation for economic recove recovery. slow as it's been, we're coming back. and what happened was that these families lost their retirements, wiped out, and not only the financial loss but the sheer psychological trauma of being either retired or on edge of retirement and suddenly it's all gone. that has left a lasting impression. people have lost jobs, as i've indicated, a huge loss of jobs. some have never gotten back into the market, or not got the job that they had, the level they had before. and then, of course, there were the foreclosures, thousands and thousands of americans losing their homes. and with their homes, they lost their whole sense of belonging to the community, their ability to find a new job because they
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were just battling a day at a time, you know, for shelter, for subsistence. these were real issues, and we seem to have forgotten all that. we seem to have forgotten that wall street, without sound regulation, strong regulation, will find its way off the path and into this type of difficulty. now, we all know people who have suffered these losses, and we all are committed that they won't suffer them again, but that commitment requires us to follow through on the dodd-frank act, the wall street reform act. we did in that legislation -- i worked very closely with senator warren at the time to create the consumer financial protection bureau, and it is just one of the examples of the efforts in that bill that actually protected our constituents, not theoretically but practically. they've been protected from
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tricky people who were giving them mortgages they couldn't afford, illegal servicing and foreclosure practices in the mortgage industry, steering consumers into excessive loans that they couldn't afford, and the person doing the steering knew they couldn't afford it, bubut they took the money and literally ran. and we've tried to stop them. because of the efforts of the consumer financial protection bureau, $11.2 billion in relief have been given to families throughout this country, $11 billion has been given to individuals and families all across this country, an example not of theoretical, legalistic procedures, but practical help for feasm that'for families. some of the proposals we're here about what undo that. i'm particularly proud in that process of creating and working with colleagues to create the office of service member affairs within the consumer financial
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protection bureau to serve sasse a watchdog for our military personnel and under the leadership of holly pa tra petr, it's done a remarkable job. more than $90 million has been returned to service members and their families from unscrupulous companies who preyed on our military families, understanding the -- the military lending act which has capped annual interest rates for military personnel has been enforced through the efforts of the consumer financial protection bureau. and thi this has not only helped these families, it's helped the nation. basically a long time ago i had the privilege of commanding paratroopers in the 82nd. it's hard to be a good soldier when you worry about whether your family will be make to make it through the week.
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this is the result of dodd-frank. why would we want to roll back these reforms and, you know, you ask people and they'll say, well, it's -- they're burdensome and they are you a hurting these financial institutions and it's just so hard to operate a financial institution today. then you take a look at the stock performance of these institutions, the global banks and regional banks, these institutions have seen their stock prices increase from july 2010 at least by 31%, and in some cases as high as 141%. that's the market saying to these institutions, to all of us, they're in good shape. they're in great shape. they're not being burdened by financial regulations. the they're not being overwhelmed.
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they're profit centers, they're doing great. name other companies who have increased their value so much. and one reason is because everyone is confident there is a stable, sound, rigorous regulatory structure that is ensuring that banks will not go off the clirvetion a cliff, as n 2007-2008, when they stock prices collapsed. so if you look at that, if you look at the market, they're not complaining about dodd-frank. they're looking to say, that's where the money should go. that's what you should invest in. so if you look at that and then you also do a contrast between what's happened to these average american families, they haven't seen that kind of wage growth. i don't know many working families who've seen a 31% increase in their income or 14 i% increase in their income. but we have to do better. and with respect to our working
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families, one thing we have to do is make sure we keep in place protections that were built into the dodd-frank act. now, there's always ways you can improve legislation and there are a myriad of technical corrections which could be done. but to disguise some of these proposals as technical corrections is not appropriate. i think also, too, frankly, that if we're going to be sensible and sound and thoughtful about technical corrections, let's go ahead and do it the way it should be done, the way dodd-frank was done. i was on the banking committee. we had hearings, we had a markup, several markups until we got it right. then we brought it to the floor and had a vigorous debate and amended the bill. then we had changes in conference and then we sent it to the president for signature. so if we're going to do corrections to improve dodd-frank bill, let's do it the
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way we did it originally. not finding a convenient veerks a highway bill, an aprongses bill, nighs other -- an appropriations bill, any other bill and sticking them in, you've got do this or you lose highway funding or funding for schools, for education, for national defense. so i would hope that we could move forward in regular order, make corrections where necessary, but certainly not in these waning days of this session undermine the dodd-frank act with some of proposals that i've heard. with that, i would yield back to my colleague and thank the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: thank you so much for the comments and insights from my colleague from rhode island. and now we're going to turn to the senior senator from massachusetts and would be delighted to hear your thoughts on this challenge of taking serious issues related to the wall street casino, a system that brought down the prospects for so many american families,
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and how there is consideration of restoring the wall street casino in the dark of night by policy riders being attached to other bills. ms. warren: thank you. mr. president, i am glad to join senator merkley, senator nelson, and senator reed on the floor today -- i thank senator merkley for pulling us together here. we are here to say "no." "no" to the industry lobbyists, "no" to their friends in congress who are threaten ago government shutdown if we won't roll back rules that protect consumers and protect the safety of our financial system. you know, it is a pretty neat trick. the lobbyists know they probably can't get a rollback of financial regulation passed out in the open where the american people can actually see what's happening and see which senators and which representatives voted to gut the rules that protect working families. so instead they tack rollbacks onto must-pass legislation, like the upcoming government funding bill, to give their friends in congress a lot of cover for
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voting "yes." it's cynical. it's cynical and it's corrupt. but it usually works. just last year citigroup lobbyists wrote a provision to blast a hole in dodd-frank. the part of the law that was blown up was called -- aged ale quoting the title here -- "prohibition against federal government bailouts of swaps entities." the idea behind the rule was pretty simple. if a big bank wanted to engage in certain kinds of risky deals, like the credit default swaps that had been at the heart of the 2008 crisis, they had-to-bear all of that risk themselves instead of passing it along to taxpayers. the big banks wanted that rule repealed and the only way to do it was to put it on a bill that had to pass or the government would shut down. and that is exactly what they did. for a year, congressman he lie shah cummings and i worked to document the impact of that amendment. we finally got what we needed.
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the fdic estimates that the provision written by citigroup lobbyists last year that allows a few big banks to put taxpayers on the hook for risky swaps has an estimated value of almost $10 trillion. and who is gobbling up that $10 trillion of risk? three huge banks: citigroup, j.p. morgan chase, and bank of america. three banks, nearly $10 trillion. $10 trillion is a lot of risky business. these banks will happily suck down the profits when their high-stake bets work out and they will just as happily turn to the taxpayers to bail them out if there is a problem. all this because the lobbyists persuaded congress to do just one little favor in a must-pass bill. and now a year after the
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citigroup amendment, there are rumors of new giveaways in the upcoming funding bill. rollbacks that would make it harder for the government to stop the next a a.i.g. from takg down the roll, rollbacks that would exempt many of the 40 largest baiption in the country from tougher oversight. rollbacks that would undermine the consumer agency's rules to clean up mortgage and auto lending markets, rollbacks that would stop the agency from protectinprotecting consumers' f they're cheated on credit cards, rollbacks that would allow financial advisors to continue lining their own pockets while robbing retirees of billions of dollars. why are these rollbacks at the top of congress' agenda? are constituents flooding the phone lines begging their senators to weaken the rules for financial institutions? are they writing in by the thousands insisting that their senators make it easier for
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people to get cheated? of course not. survey after survey has shown that hardworking americans want stronger regulation of wall street and more accountability for c.e.o.'s who break the law. but like so many things around here, this process isn't about doing what hardworking americans want. it's about pleasing the rich and powerful who are lined up for special favors. i know some of my democratic colleagues are frustrated by all of the gridlock in washington. they say wall street accountability is important, but i just want to get something done around here for a change. so let's go allege with the republicans -- let's go along with the republicans and the special interest. yes, i want to get something done too. who doesn't? but i didn't come here to carry water for wall street and a burchl of special interests -- bunch of special interests. if republicans think it is time to talk about financial reform,
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let's put it on the table. if the industry wants to push rollbacks, i want to make it easier to send bankers to jail when they launder money or cheat consumers. if the industry wants to chip away at financial oversight, then i want to have a serious conversation on the record about breaking up the biggest banks. and if they're too scared to have that conversation out in the open, then senators shouldn't be handing out special favors behind closed doors. the upcoming debate about government funding bill is going to boil down to one question: whose side are you on? are you on the side of working families who got punched in the gut and want stronger rules for wall street? or are you on the side of the giant financial institutions that broke the economy, got bailed out and once again tried to call the shots on capitol hill? well, me, i'm with the families. and i'm ready to say no to the bank c.e.o.'s, no to the
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industry lobbyists, and no to all of their buddies here in congress. mr. president, i yield the remainder of my time to senator merkley. mr. merkley: mr. president, i really appreciate the remarks from the senior senator from massachusetts, who has brought so much personal research in the course of her career and passion and insight to this battle, who put forward the idea of a consumer protection bureau -- consumer financial protection bureau to provide oversight of these predatory practices and who has been such a watchdog about these practices. i would just ask her before she leaves the floor, why is it that this discussion is happening right now in terms of policy riders on must-pass spending bills rather than happening in light of day with the committee hearing, a banking committee hearing where this can be fully discussed and debated?
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ms. warren: well, senator, you raise the right question, but i think it's pretty obvious. if these proposals were debated out in public where everyone in america could see them, they wouldn't pass. people don't want to line up to vote for fewer restrictions on wall street. they don't want to line up to vote for more opportunities to cheat american families. so instead the idea is just tack it on something else that's going to move through. and then the question is, will people vote to keep the government open? and that gives a lot of people here in congress who want to help the big financial institutions a lot of cover. and that is fundamentally wrong. mr. merkley: one of the things that we had a lot of concern about is that the consumer financial protection bureau, which is making sure that predatory mortgages don't return which were a key product that helped drive the collapse in 2007-2008, that those prakdz --
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practices could return if the ability of the cfpb would diminishing by regulating the govern structure. is that a good idea or bad idea? poip the -- ms. warren: the cfpb works. already that agency has been up and operational for just a little over four years and it has forced the biggest financial institutions in this country return with $11 billion directly to families they cheated. it has handled more than 750,000 complaints against big financial institutions, against payday lenders, against college loan services that are cheating people, that are tricking people. and so what is the response? while it's helping the american people, it's costing a handful of the biggest financial institutions in this country
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real money, and they're trying to find a way to make sure that the consumer agency doesn't do its job. they want to find a way to weaken that agency, to tie that agency down, to keep that agency from leveling the playing field for american families. mr. merkley: each time you and i have talked about this, the number increases. i will say something like the cfpb has returned $3 billion, and you'll say, senator, it's now $5 billion. and when i say it's $5 billion, you remind me that it's now $8 billion. and here we are at $11 billion return. now i believe that that number really includes real cash return to individuals but does not include the vast savings that have come from families that were never cheated in the first place. ms. warren: i think one of the most important parts of this is the consumer agency said when credit card companies, for
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example, got caught cheating people, it said to those credit card companies, look, you have people's addresses to be able to cheat them. now you have people's addresses to send them checks, to pay them back. it's just like you said. it's like a warning shot to everyone else out there cheating consumers. they said this agency is on the level. this agency is tough. and so i think there are millions of americans who don't get cheated, who don't get tricked in one scam or another because we have a real watchdog out there, someone who's on the side of the american family. mr. merkley: i thank you so much for your presenting this idea. before you were here in the united states senate and for helping, well, stepping in to be the initial director to get it up and running and now being here to make sure that we defend its ability to provide fair financial products for america's families, products that enable families to build their wealth rather than having wealth-
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stripping scams hurt and destroy the finances of american families. ms. warren: i only want to add i am grateful for all the work you have done on behalf of american consumers and all the work you did to get the consumer agency through congress and now to protect it when the big banks are coming after it. thank you for all you do, senator merkley. mr. merkley: thank you very much, senator. as we've heard from this colloquy and appreciate that bill nelson was here earlier, the senator from florida, to discuss his insights on these dark of night policy riders designed to restore the wall street casino and cheat american families, i appreciate the comments that he brought to this, that jack reed, the senior senator from rhode island, has brought forward; and elizabeth warren, the senior senator from massachusetts, each making important points. so i'll be brief here because they have laid out the, most of the issues that i will try to
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echo. the key point is that debates over changing the rules for these powerful financial institutions should be debated in the open, in front of the tv cameras, in front of the american people, not in secret negotiation rooms, not in the dark of night, which is happening at this very moment. because a lot's at stake. we found from before that when the regulations were stripped away and the casino -- wall street casino went wild that we ended up with a crash that destroyed the finances of millions of families. many of them will never recover. they lost their home, their dream of homeownership. it's been shattered, and they're not going to get it back. they lost their job and have been derailed and will never get back on track. they lost their retirement savings, and they'll never be able to rebuild it. in fact, that golden vision of
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retirement may be something that they feel they will never be able to be part of, that that chapter of their life will never come. so a tremendous amount is at stake. and these dark of night negotiations to repeal, to undermine, to delay, the shutdowns of wall street casino are wrong. let's have the debate in the committee where it belongs. this is critical for working families everywhere in the country and certainly in my home state. let me mention one of the wrierdz, which is to take -- one of the riders which is to take and allow the volcker rule to be voided for some of the financial institutions. what is the volcker rule? the volcker rule shut down the wall street casino. it said banks cannot bet with taxpayer-insured deposits. if a group wants to make big bets on the future of interest rates or monetary exchanges or quality of mortgages and so forth, do so with private wealth
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funds where the only person at stake are those who have invested in the fund. don't do it with taxpayer-insured banks. that's one example. a second is we need to keep the quality mortgages we have now so they do not return to being a predatory instrument. we had a legalized kickback scheme. that structure meant mortgage originators were paid for steering families from a prime mortgage that would build their wealth into a subprime mortgage with an exploding interest rate which would destroy their wealth. we ended those kickbacks. let us not let that happen again. let us not undermine the role of the financial stability oversight council. when we had this dramatic, massive increase in subprime loans starting in 2003 and going through 2007, nobody was watching. we need to have someone say look
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at that surge in subprimes. and because of that surge, what's going on in this is creating a bubble. this is a big bet that's going to go bust. this is going to destroy families. we had actually an agency that was responsible for controlling these predatory practices. it was the federal reserve. the federal reserve, sophisticated economists said we want to talk monetary policy. that is what we do in the penthouse of the federal reserve building. but they put consumer protection down in the basement and they locked the door and they threw away the key and they said we have that responsibility, but we just aren't going to do anything about it. and they let predatory schemes run wild and destroy millions of american families. so now we have an organization, consumer financial protection bureau, that is the watchdog, that is making sure that the disclosures and the structure are fair and square for american families so we can build the success of those families.
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you can't be for the success of american families and be for these secret dark-of-night measures designed to destroy the effort to rein in this wall street casino. well, mr. president, i hope we will see a return to regular order, the type of regular order that my colleague from rhode island talked about, the type of light-of-day committee discussions that my colleague from massachusetts talked about, because this is so important to our future and success of american families. lets make sure that we work together to build the wealth and success through fair financial practices, not special favors done for very powerful institutions that are designed to exploit and operate as predatory measures to strip the wealth of american families. thank you, mr. president.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i rise today to speak in support of repealing obamacare and replacing it with a step-by-step choice that restories -- restores competition to consumers. the problems have been reported here on the floor of the united states senate. i know we've all heard from our constituents, hundreds of thousands have written and called all of our offices. as a matter of fact, i'll read one of the letters that came in to my office, at least part of it. it's addressed to me and it says, it starts out, "i'm sure i'm not the first one to contact you about rising health insurance deductibles. i've had this job for three years. the first two years my company plan had a $3,000 yearly deductible with no co-pay.
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$3,000 yearly deductible with no co-pay. last year it went to $4,000 with a 20% co-pay. it goes from $3,000 to $4,000 in annual premium -- deductible, excuse me. and go from no co-pay to a 20% co-pay. this coming year, 2016, it will go to $6,700 for the deductible with a 20% co-pay. so in just three years it goes from a $3,000 yearly deductible with no co-pay to $6,700, more than double, with a 20% co-pay. he goes on. even before my current job i had a bluecross north dakota policy that had a $2,000 deductible. i always had good health insurance. now i have an essentially worthless policy. i had bone cancer in my pelvis one and one half years ago, had to go to mayo and have my left
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pelvis removed, spent the last 18 months learning to walk again. doctors weren't able to reconstruct. i left twice yearly follow-upcancer screenings for the next seven years. they cost $7,000 each which is all of my deductible. he goes on to to say what are you doing to make thanks to this health care act. he goes on further. it clearly identifies what consumers across the country are experiencing. so this is just one example. i have many more, as do all the members of this body. yet, bad as obamacare is for them, it's going to get worse. in 2016, for example, consumers will see significantly higher premiums yet again, premiums for the lowest cost silver plan will increase by 13% and the lowest cost bronze plan will rise by
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16% on average. and that's not all. the affordable care act has led to higher out-of-pocket costs for older, middle and lower income americans as well. today the average deductible is more than $2,000 and for some it exceeds $6,000, discouraging people from seeking necessary care. the law is also resulting in fewer choices. employers are already reducing benefits for many family members. by 2018, more than half the employers plan to significantly reduce benefits for employees' children and spouses, and while many are seeing higher premiums in deductibles with fewer choices, obamacare has created dozens of new taxes that ultimately are passed down to small businesses and consumers. the congressional budget office has estimated that obamacare increases taxes by $1.2 trillion over the next decade.
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the result is fewer jobs. simply put, employers are already cutting jobs or reducing hours to part time to avoid the higher costs of obamacare. mr. president, i do believe there is a consensus across the nation that we need health care reform but obamacare is not the answer. americans want commonsense reforms, reforms that truly are affordable and that truly do empower patients to make their own choices. in the short run, we need to pass budget reconciliation legislation that repeals obamacare and in particular the individual and employer mandates. in the long run, we need to take a step-by-step approach to put individuals, families and businesses on a path to better perform. the right approach to health care reform empowers people to make their own choices in selecting health care providers and insurers. it is patient centered and respects the relationship
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between doctor and patient. the way you accomplish that is with a marked-based plan. it creates more competition and reduces health care costs. here's what we could do to foster competition and reduce health care costs, we can do things like expand tax-free health savings accounts, h.s.a.'s, flexible savings accounts and archer medical savings accounts to encourage individuals to save for future health care needs. combined with high-deductible, low premium policies, people will be able to meet their immediate health care needs and still be protected in the event of costly serious illness. we should provide portable health care plans so that individuals and families don't experience gaps in coverage when they change jobs. these plans could be given favorable tax treatment. for example, they could be treated as tax-preferred accounts so that dollars towards premiums could receive tax-exempt treatment. we should allow health care
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policies to be sold across state lines. this would result in more choices, more competition and reduced costs for customers. we should give states more flexibility to manage medicaid for low-incom individuals and families. and we should ensure affordable health care options are available to those in need and certainly those patients with preexisting conditions. that means bolstering state high-risk pools to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to be covered. mr. president, obamacare is far from being a panacea it was promoted to be. sticker shock hasn't faded. the budget reconciliation, we now have a real opportunity to turn the page on a failed experiment so that we can take steps toward replacing it with something the american people want. i urge my colleagues to get behind the effort so that we can start that process. with that, mr. president, i
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yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: thank you, mr. president. i want to talk a little bit today about food and transparency and consumers' right to know what's in their food. as many of the folks in this body know, in my real life, i'm a farmer. i get to see exactly where my food comes from. in fact, last month, i spent some time butchering and processing of beef. i know exactly where that came from. and i like that. but not all americans have that ability to know where their food comes from. and a few months ago, in july, in fact, the house passed a bill called the safe and accurate food labeling act. it couldn't be anything different than that, by the way. basically it denies americans the right to know what's in their food. by prohibiting, by prohibiting
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the federal government from imposing any label standards in states and municipalities for that point, any labor standards that -- labeling standards that deal with genetically modified food. i come from a state where transparency is very important to our government, and it makes our government work better. for the federal government in this case to undermine states and municipal sis and not allow the consumer to know what's in their food is exactly the wrong step to take, so why am i bringing this up today? i bring it up today because quite frankly there is some talk about air dropping an amendment in that would allow the dark act to go into effect. it's not a bill we debated on the floor. to my knowledge, i don't know
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that it's even been heard in committee. but the bottom line is that this is bad, bad policy. now, the arguments would say well, you know what? it's confusing, it's going to be expensive, that's bunk. the bottom line is consumers are smart, they pay attention to what they eat, and if you give them the ability to choose and give them the ability to know what's in this food, they'll make the decision, which is their decision to make on what they're going to feed their family, what mothers are going to feed their children. it really goes against everything that this country stands for, about letting people know that we do have a great food system in this country, so let's be proud of it, let's label it, let's talk about what's in it, let's let consumers have the choice. consumers are smart, and they will -- they will absolutely make the choice that's best for their family.
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food's very important. food in my opinion is medicine. if you know what you're eating, you'll have a healthier family. if you pay attention to these kind of things, your health care costs will go down. and the truth is that other countries require g.m.o. labeling, countries like russia, china, saudi arabia. not exactly countries that you would think would be very helpful to their consumers or transparent, but they think it's important to label it. we ought to here in this country, too. the fact of the matter is big money is coming in here saying we don't want the consumers right to know if they have g.m.o. product in food. we want the consumers to be ignorant. and that is not something this body should do. let's give the consumers the information they deserve.
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let's allow this labeling to move forward like vermont has already done and other states like maine and connecticut also are taking steps in that direction. but the bottom line is to put in an amendment that stops states or municipalities from requiring labeling is a step in the wrong direction. it's not fair to consumers and quite frankly it's not fair to the folks who produce food in this country. with that, mr. chairman, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, thank you. i want to talk a little bit about the legislation that is before us to repeal and replace obamacare, otherwise known as the affordable care act. when i travel around my home state of ohio, i hear about a couple of things a lot. one is the tough job market and flat wages. it's just give to get ahead. and the other is -- and it's related -- escalating health care costs. so people are seeing in their lives that it's tough to find that job and if they do have a job, they're finding that their
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wages aren't going up like they would normally expect, and unfortunately when you look nationally, this is true. wages on average over the last six years are not just flat. they are slightly down. in other words, they have declined. which is not typical. on the other hand, expenses are up and the biggest expense, health care. so the middle-class squeeze is very real. it's affecting the people i represent as they see again unusually low wages, not the growth that we normally expect on the one hand. on the other hand, higher expenses. health care taking the lead in terms of those expenses. today here in the united states senate and tomorrow as we debate this and vote on it, we have a chance to move the ball forward and show people that at least a majority here in the united states congress agree, we have to address this issue. the health care issue, of course, to try to stop this incredibly fast increase in
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premiums, deductibles, co-pays, families, small businesses are getting hit hard, but also helping to give the economy a shot in the arm by coming up with smarter ways to deal with health care. this vote will show that there are some here in congress who are listening and have some answers. our job is to do what's right, and that's to pass this legislation to repeal and replace obamacare, to give us a chance to get rid of some of the most detrimental aspects of it that are eliminating jobs, that are pushing health care costs higher and higher. the legislation, the affordable care act, was sold as actually reducing costs. it was sold under false pretenses. spec