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tv   Senators Thune and Stabenow on Republican Affordable Care Act Replacement...  CSPAN  June 28, 2017 2:29am-2:47am EDT

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the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. thune: i'd like to ask that the quorum call be suspend. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, an article that obamacare rates could skyrocket. another says there is a premium hike. from the "washington examiner,"
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c.m.s., 47 counties won't have obamacare coverage in 2018. from bloomberg, anthem to leave obamacare markets in indiana and washington, from "the washington free beacon "last insurer in delaware asks for rate hike of 23.6%." these headlines should be shocking -- an 87% increase, 47 counties without an insurer, but they are not. insurers leaving the market, lack of coverage, that's par for the course for obamacare. unfortunately, mr. president, too many americans have gotten used to those type of headlines of -- letlines -- headlines. i have lost count. behind these stories are tens of
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thousands of struggling americans, americans who can no longer afford the obamacare premiums, americans who are losing their health care plan again, americans who are worried they won't have any coverage options at all for 2018. mr. president, obamacare may have been well intentioned, but good intentions are not enough. obamacare was fatally flawed from the beginning and it is rapidly imploding. now, we can do one of two things here, mr. president. we can wait around for the exchanges to collapse completely, as our colleagues across the aisle seem inclined to do, or we can act. sitting around waiting for the exchanges to collapse might be the easier path, but we can't do much for the american people if we are sitting on the bench watching. republicans promised that we would rescue them from the burdens of obamacare, and we
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intend to keep that promise. last week senate republicans released legislation to start undoing the damage caused by obamacare. it was called the better care reconciliation act. to start with, our bill provides relief to individuals and families by repealing obamacare's burdensome individual and employer mandates. under our legislation, americans will no longer be forced to buy insurance if they p don't want or -- if they don't want or can't afford. employers will no longer be faced with reducing worker hours or not hiring employees simply to avoid the federal government's heavy hand. our bill also repeals burdensome obamacare taxes. taxes have consequences. when you raise taxes on everything from lifesaving medical devices like pacemakers to health insurance itself, which obamacare did, it's no surprise that these things get less affordable. our goal with this bill, mr. p,
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is to make -- mr. president, is to make health care more affordable and more accessible to all americans. repealing obamacare taxes is one part of that. stabilizing the rapidly collapsing obamacare markets is another part. premiums on the exchanges are spiraling out of control and insurers are fleeing the marketplace. the better care act will help stabilize the market and check premium increases. the better care act also provides funding to help states implement solutions to help make health care more affordable for low-income residents. giving states flexibility was a priority for us. obamacare, of course, took the opposite approach, attempting to impose a one-size-fits-all solution on every state in the union. but the problem with that is that it's pretty much impossible for a massive federal bureaucracy to hand down one
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comprehensive solution that will somehow meet the needs of everyone in this country, not to mention the top-down, one-size-fits-all solutions are seldom the most efficient or affordable. bureaucracy costs money, after all. our goal in drafting the better care act was to make sure that states had the flexibility to address the needs of their specific populations. we provided a state innovation fund to help meet the needs of their residents. we empowered states by simplifying the waiver process by which they could seek relief from some of obamacare's demands and by allowing them to encourage a greater variety of health care solutions. we give states more flexibility when it comes to meeting the needs of their residents who rely on medicaid. in addition to giving states the flexibility to design affordable health care solutions and to encourage innovation, our bill also provides help directly to
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americans who are most in need. the better care act provides advancable and refundable tax credit for americans making from zero to 300 -- 350% of the federal poverty level. it makes sure that whose in the most need get the most help. these credits will provide help to low-income americans around the country who currently receive no health care assistance. in many states thousands of americans are unable to qualify for medicaid but don't earn enough to get obamacare subsidies. that leaves these families with no ace sis tans when it comes to purchasing health insurance. the better care act fixes this. "the wall street journal" reports, and i quote, the senate bill will extend premium subsidies to 2.6 million more adults with income below the federal poverty line.
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that's according to estimates from the kaiser family foundation. mr. president, since obamacare became law, i've heard from so many south dakotans struggling under the law's mandates and the massive health care costs that its imposed. this bill is going to bring them relief. no more obamacare mandates. protection for those with preexisting conditions. more affordable premiums. a more stable insurance market. assistance for low-income families. more flexibility to contribute to health savings accounts. increased flexibility for states to meet the needs of their medicaid populations. more funding for hospitals that provide care to low-income south dakotans. relief from obamacare taxes. and for the first time ever, for the first time ever, 37,000
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south dakotans living below 100% of the federal poverty level will have assistance in getting health insurance on the individual market. this bill will give south dakotans and all americans access to better and more affordable health care. mr. president, the better care act is the product of weeks of dialogue and collaboration among the members of our conference, and i'm particularly grateful to senators alexander and enzi and hatch who had helped provide outstanding leadership throughout this process. mr. president, as i said earlier, republicans made the american people a promise. we promised that if we would provide -- we promised that we would provide relief to the millions of americans suffering under obamacare. and, mr. president, this bill delivers on that promise. i hope we will have the opportunity soon to vote for this legislation because it is time to give the american people
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access to real health care reform. u veryesident, i yield the floor much, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i just want to take a moment because we have all been so focused and there has been so much concern about what is going to happen in terms of health care in this country, and so many people have called me concerned about whether or not they are going to be able to continue their cancer treatments or whether their child's going to be able to get the operation that they need or whether their mom with alzheimer's is going to be able to continue to get nursing home care and so on, and i want to thank everyone who has told their story. we spent six months. this debate, this fight isn't over yet, but it started the day after we were all sworn in in
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this chamber in january, on january 4, a process that was set up intentionally to be a partisan process that took just 51 votes, and instead of the regular committee process and working together, a fact was initiated, and great concern went out across the country about what would be happening in terms of health care. people have spoken up, they have written letters and e-mails and made phone calls and marched and told their stories, and today, at least for a moment, this senate will not proceed this week because there are not the votes to proceed to what i believe is a complete unraveling of our health care system. that may come, certainly. i don't understand people's abilities to make deals and to -- to create a way to have
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this happen when we get back from the 4th of july, but at least in the short run, i want to thank everybody who has been involved and spoken out about this critically important issue. there are lots of things that have been said on this floor and have been said publicly about the health care system. we do have a situation for people buying private insurance on the private exchanges where there is a combination of things that have been done to create the situation where people are paying more, but there's also situations where there are problems and not enough competition and areas where people are paying too much and we need to address that, and one of the biggest cost drivers is the cost of prescription drugs, and we desperately need to address that, and i hope that when we come back after this next week, the 4th of july, that we will have a conversation about the real problems that we
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need to address, to build on health care, not take away medical care for tens of millions of people, but to build on successes and tackle the things that aren't working. i'm very concerned about small businesses. i've introduced a bill that would give a 50% tax credit for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to help them cover the costs of their employees. we know that most people who don't have insurance work for a small business, work for themselves as a single employer. let's -- let's help them. there are things i know that we could work on together across the aisle that would have lower costs and tackle the real problems. but this is what i also know, and that is when people talk to me about lowering costs and addressing health care, they're not talking about another tax cut for multimillionaires or billionaires. that's actually not on their list of ,]had.
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it's -- list of health care reforms. it's in the bill that's in front of us but it's not on list that people say i want to bring down out-of-pocket costs so i can afford insurance for my kids. and would you give a tax cut to multibillionaires. that's not on the list. so if we could come together and take the two things off the list here, tax cuts funded by the second thing which is cutting medical care for seniors and medicaid and families, if we could take that off the table and focus on the real cost drivers, the real problems that need to be addressed so that health care is more affordable, then we would see enthusiasm on our side of the aisle, and i know colleagues on both sides of the aisle could come together. the president who is presiding today and i have worked together many, many times on issues. we can
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do this again, but we have a situation where somehow tax cuts get involved in every debate and, secondly, addressing medicaid, which is actually saving money for taxpayers in states and families, is part of this that makes no sense. and i've said it before, but just to illustrate it one more time, our governor and state legislature expanded medicaid to working families, people making minimum wage, and what has happened as a result of that? well, 97% of the chairman in michigan can -- well, 99% of the children in michigan can now go see a doctor. i am uncompensated indicate -- uncompensated care down by 57%. the state of michigan is saving money.
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$432 million more in the budget, taxpayer money, savings that can be used for something else toern in the state other than paying for people that don't have insurance, can't see a doctor, and use the emergency room. so, for me, you know, this debate gets all smoshed in together to other things that aren't equity canned it each other. the truth is that medicaid is saving money. more people can go to the doctor, get prevention, fewer people walking into the emergency room, which is the most expensive way to get health care. that is working. seniors -- three out of five seniors in michigan in nursing homes are there because of medicaid health care. so i'm not interested in cutting health care for seniors and children and working families. i'm not interested in a tax cut that's going to give the top 400
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people in the united states a combined $33 billion in tax cu cuts. but if we want to focus on small businesses, folks that are individually buying insurance and they either can't find insurance or it's too high, count me in -- count me in. that needs to get fixed, and that involves making sure that the administration does not continue with actions that are raising people's costs on purpose, and it means we need to fix the things in the system that aren't working there. so i would hope that the rest of this week, next week, and beyond that we could have some real conversations about how working together to solve the real problems that deal with cost, prescription drug costs, out-of-pocket costs for people, and we can do that in a bipartisan way, if we're
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focusing on the real problems in health care and how we make health care stronger, better, more affordable for american families. thank you, mr. president.

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