tv Senate Democrats No More Amendments Until We See Health Care Bill CSPAN July 26, 2017 9:29am-11:30am EDT
regiment which the president is now dealing with, where every 90 days, the president has to certify that they're in compliance, and that every six months, we get a tranche of materials relative to what is happening in iran, so congress itself has the ability to know whether they're i mplementing. it's the opposite. but that misunderstanding, unfortunately, has been haunting-- has been haunting because there are people out there that somehow or another think that in fact congress approved, when the fact is, congress couldn't get enough votes to disapprove. but the majority of congress disapproves with-- majority of the senate disapproved with what was happening with this deal where the president was in essence-- >> we'll have to leave this interview, and you'll find it in it's entirety. and the u.s. senate is going to
.. in all our ways. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., july 26, 2017. to the senate, under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable rand paul, a senator from the commonwealth of kentucky, to perform the duties of the chair. signed
orrin g. hatch. president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate took a critical step to finally leave the failed experiment of obamacare in the past. it marks an important moment for our country. it signals a positive development for the countless americans who continue to suffer under obamacare's skyrocketing costs and diminishing options. i thank every colleague who voted to begin the debate.
i thank the president, his administration and our friends in the house for the roles they have played. now we have to keep working hard. we're determined to do everything we can to succeed. we know our constituents are counting on us. we'll work through an open amendment process. i know members in both parties have health care ideas they'd like to offer. if you've got one, bring it to the floor. last night the senate considered a comprehensive obamacare repeal and replace substitute. that amendment was subject to a 60-vote threshold because the congressional budget office had not provided a score for that provision as yet. but it represented a number of important health care reform ideas developed by our members. later today the senate will vote on another alternative that is based on the obamacare repeal legislation that passed congress in 2015 and was vetoed by
president obama. we'll consider many different proposals throughout this process from senators on both sides of the aisle. ultimately, we want to get legislation to finally end the failed obamacare status quo through congress and to the president's desk for his signature. this certainly won't be easy. hardly anything -- anything in this process has been. we know moving beyond the failures of obamacare is the right thing to do. we put a lot of hard work into this. we had important successes like we saw with the vote to proceed yesterday. we have to
keep up the work now so we can get this done.
the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 1628, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 120, h.r. 1628, an act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to title 2 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2017.
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. schumer: i ask that my speaking time be added to part of leader time, not debate time. the
presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. pres mr. president. now, as the senate continues to debate on the republican health care bill, it seems the republican majority is no clearer on what the end game is, because there's no good way out of this. last night, the senate republican trumpcare bill, after months of back room negotiating and -- back-room negotiating and provisions aimed at all kinds of individual states and members died, with nine republicans voting against the measure and many others who voted for it gritting their teeth unhappily. later today, we'll vote on a bill to repeal the affordable
care act without replacing it. i know that you, mr. president, have championed that bill. based on the public comments and public criticism, from the other side of the aisle, repeal without replace will fail as well. it's becoming clearer that in the end, the majority leader might push a much scaled-back version of repeal in the hopes of passing something, so-called skinny repeal, just to get to conference. but my colleagues, make no mistake about it, skinny repeal is equal to full repeal. it's a trojan horse designed to get the house and senate into conference where the hard-right flank of the republican caucus, the freedom caucus, will demand full repeal or something very close to it. they will demand all the things, deep cuts to medicaid, generous tax breaks for the wealthy,
elimination of preexisting conditions, slashing, slashing the kinds of things that people need for nursing homes and opioid treatment and disabled kids. that many of my republican colleagues here in the senate have very sincerely tried to undo. so there is no such thing as skinny repeal. it's a ruse to get to full repeal, with all the cuts to medicaid and tax breaks which are so unpopular and which so many of my republican colleagues here on the other side have opposed. it is clear that house and senate republicans are miles apart. they are divided on major issues, on medicaid, tax breaks, preexisting conditions,. the differences between house republicans and senate republicans are virtually irreconcilingable. so what is the point of a conference?
you can imagine a conference that turns into an endless game of hot potato. the republican leader in the senate passing the potato to the house. the republican leader of the house passing it back to the senate. neither wants to be responsible for what is inevitable, the demise of trumpcare. and of course it's likely that a conference would probably produce no agreement at all. keeping the incredible toxic and unpopular trumpcare bill the topic of conversation for another three months. stalling the legislative agenda for another three months, and in the end getting nothing done. my republican colleagues should consider that. many of them want to work with us on so many issues. above all, ndaa, which my dear, dear friend john mccain, who we pray for every day, wants to get to right away. an energy bill, which my
colleague from washington and her chair, the senior member from alask bring to the floor and get moving in a bipartisan way. and nominations, leader mcconnell has made it clear he wants to move nominations. if we stop playing this game with trumpcare and sent it back to committee and did regular order, as john mccain preached so well yesterday, we could move on to all these other things in a good, strong bipartisan way and start to gets things done. my republican colleagues should consider that carefully, carefully. we democrats want to start working with our republican colleagues on the issues i mentioned, and we also want to work on improving a.c.a. no one has ever said obamacare was perfect.
and i have called five or six of my republican colleagues on the other side if we stop this effort with trumpcare, with repeal or repeal and replace with something far worse than the present condition, we can go back to committee and improve the present health care system, get premiums lower, get health care better, stabilize the system so there is more competition. we'll do that. and you know, my good friend, the senator from wyoming, i heard him saying to his colleagues the democrats will never negotiate, schumer will never negotiate. so i saw him on the floor last night and assured him that i will, that's our goal. he accepted that in good faith. so the bottom line is simple, i say to my republican colleagues -- oh, i would say to my republican colleagues, when you find yourself in a hole, the
first rule is stop digging. by continuing this process, trying to send something, anything to conference with the house, republicans are just digging a deeper and deeper hole for themselves and for this body. i would implore my republican colleagues to stop digging and come work with democrats. we can work to improve our nation's health care system, but republicans have to turn back soon, and they're running out of chances. and one more thing i would add. i heard my friend, the republican leader, say well, we're going to have a full amendment process. he's trying to convince the folks on the other side that, oh, we'll do a bunch of amendments and then we have no choice, we will have to send something to conference because we couldn't get anything major done. that is a lot of bunk. we have had no hearings. we have had no amendments. we have had no bipartisan discussions. and we won't even be able to
have debate on many amendments on one of the most major bills affecting us that affects tens of millions of people's health and affects one-sixth of the economy. so don't fall for this, oh, we're having a full process. i like my friend, the republican leader. we get along well, but sometimes he says things, when i hear them, i get a little twist in the stomach there. we have a full and open amendment process. he said it three or four times. everyone in this chamber knows that's not the case. everyone in this chamber knows that's not the case, and don't be deluded into thinking, well, we tried. we haven't tried until we go back to regular order. now, on another matter, mr. president, president trump continues to find new ways to humiliate his own attorney general jeff sessions, a man who stuck his neck out for the president before any other senator would. now, i heard president trump say, oh, i was already popular. as i remember it, when jeff sessions supported him, he was an underdog, and everyone said
wow, jeff sessions is doing that out of loyalty and friendship with donald trump. not because he was jumping on a train that was heading down the track. maybe he saw that, but no one else did. and now the president humiliates him. now, i would say to my fellow americans, democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, every american should be troubled by the character of his -- this person who humiliates and turns his back on a close friend after only six months. we're already far beyond the dangers of a chilling effect at the department of justice. the president is taking almost every opportunity in public to demonstrate an open pos tilt for the attorney general. it seems clear the president's intention is to make life unbearable for the attorney general, hoping to prompt his
resignation. all americans should be wondering why is the president publicly, publicly demeaning and humiliating such a close friend and supporter, a member of his own cabinet? they should wonder if the president is trying to pry open the office of attorney general to appoint someone during the august recess who will fire special counsel mueller and shut down the republican investigation. let me say if such a situation arises, democrats would use every tool in our toolbox to stymie such a recess appointment. and second, i can't imagine my friends on the republican side, and particularly my friends in the republican leadership, the majority leader and speaker ryan, i can't imagine that they would be complicit in creating a constitutional crisis. they must work with us and not open the door to a constitutional crisis during the
august recess. and one final point. i know my colleagues are waiting. sanctions. finally, a word on them. yesterday, the house of republicans passed nearly unanimously 419-3 a sanctions bill that was a product of bicameral, bipartisan negotiations and included strong sanctions against russia, iran, north korea. the senate must act quickly on the legislation from the house. earlier today i understand the chairman of the foreign relations committee indicated he plans to strip out a section of this package that relates to north korea. this is not yet another delay generated by republicans to present -- prevent this bill from landing on the president's desk before we leave for the recess. even as we debate other items here on the floor, we shouldn't delay this legislation any longer. i will work with the majority leader to schedule another vote on the sanctions bill so that we can send the legislation to the
president's desk before the recess. and i expect the vote will constitute a majority just like the vote in the house. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that bruce king, charlie elsworth, veronica duran and matthew few went tess on my staff be given all access passes to the floor during the consideration of
h.r. 1628. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i saw the remarks of the president of the united states in youngstown, ohio, and it's brought me to the floor this morning, because the focus of some of his speech was on the
economy and job creation. well, i can tell the president right now that we need his urgent attention to making sure that we create jobs right now. it's not about something in the future. it's about right now. there are over 40 projects worth $30 billion being held up because the export-import bank does not have a quorum. this is incredibly important to get a functioning bank and to get a board that supports having the support of a credit agency to work with the private sector to finance the sale of u.s.-made products. the president seems to embrace the notion that we should make things in america. i think we should make things in america, but i don't think that we only sell them in america. i actually want to sell the great manufactured products of the united states of america to overseas markets, to 95% of the consumers that are outside the united states. but because this administration has not shown the leadership to
get a functioning export import bank, we continue to struggle. those $30 billion in projects being held up because we don't have a functioning quorum. aviation in ohio, i wish he would have visited them because they decided to move part of their operations to canada and brazil instead of expanding in ohio to take advantage of countries that actually have a credit agency. g.e. engines decided to open a turpin prop facility in europe for the same reason. we are losing jobs simply because we don't have a tool to work with private sector banking to make sure that the sell -- the sale of u.s. manufactured products actually gets done to countries and organizations in those countries that don't have the proper financing. g.e. supposedly said we weren't going to move their corporate headquarters to ohio because they did not support the reauthorization of the
export-import bank. between 2012 and 2016, the export-import bank supported more than 255 export deals in ohio from all sizes of companies such as hall tech which exports auto parts and englo wood that exports wood products. these deals were worth more than $2 billion. what i'm so frustrated about is that this administration has not kept its word in support of the export-import bank. we continue today with the folly of having our trade ambassador show up before the finance committee and say the export-import bank was controversial. i reminded him it was actually supported by a majority of democrats and majority of republicans in the united states senate. it was also supported by a majority of republicans in the house of representatives and the democrats in the house of
representatives. so how could it be so controversial if we reauthorized it. but the white house has continued to have a double-edged strategy. pretend that they support the export-import bank and yet send up the name of a nominee to chair the bank who wants to destroy the bank and has made that intention clear. if we want jobs in ohio, we need to get the export-import bank approving deals from manufacturers that are ready to close sales and create more jobs. so let's focus on the task at hand. i hope the president will stand up and clearly articulate the need and support for an export-import bank and stop sending us the name of somebody who just wants to destroy it. i thank the president and i yield the floor.
mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i have 12 requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they do not have the approval of the democratic leader. therefore, they will not be permitted to meet past 11:30 this morning. but i ask unanimous consent that a list of committees requesting authority to meet be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i listened with a lot of interest to the democratic leader's comments this morning and his proposal that there would be cooperation if we went to a system of putting it back through committees and doing that. i've got to say we'd have a lot more confidence in getting a solution if there were a single
positive suggestion from the other side for a change. until that happens, there isn't much confidence on our side that the promise of bipartisanship is going to happen. they keep saying it isn't perfect, but they don't put forward ideas for any of the changes. we've been suggesting changes for several years and we've been told each time that it just needed a little more time, that it was a perfect bill. soon we'll be trying to do a budget. it would be nice if we had some suggestions on budget items that were a positive thing. i put out that offer as well. the reason we're having this is more than seven years ago president obama and congressional democrats imposed a risky partisan health care
experiment on america that ultimately led to skyrocketing health costs and collapsing insurance markets for millions of americans across the country. this river boat gamble has caused a stark and dramatic outcome. currently there are projected to be 50 counties across the nation that will not have a single insurer participating in the obamacare exchange. to add further insult, americans seeking affordable coverage in these almost 50 counties will still be fined under the obamacare mandate for not having health insurance. in other words, many americans will either be forced to pay for insurance they cannot afford or pay a penalty for not having health insurance under the so-called affordable care act that they can't even access. where are these people supposed to go? what can we do to help? again, we're looking for some
positive suggestions. my colleagues on both sides of the aisle know this health care experiment has failed, and that we must work together to free americans from these mandates and put health care decisions back in people's control. today senate republicans are taking an important step to rescue the millions of hardworking families trapped by obamacare's taxes and mandates. we're trying to repair the nation's broken health care system because we now have a president in the white house who shares our commitment to improve america's health care system and make better care available to all americans. one of our top priorities in congress has been to provide relief for hardworking americans from obamacare which has pushed insurance markets to the brink of collapse. in wyoming and across the country, premiums for hardworking families are soaring while choices for patients have
dwindled. as i travel across wyoming, i have a lot of people that tell me that their health insurance costs more than their mortgage. and if they ever need health care, they've got a deductible that's bigger than that. simply put, obamacare stumbled out of the starting gate on the very first day the healthcare.gov website launched. you might remember how you couldn't get on the website or how you got kicked off after you had done a lot of putting in information. yes, the obamacare stumbled out of the starting gate on the very first day that the healthcare.gov website was launched, and it's consistently failed to deliver on its core promises while hurting far more americans than it's helping. one thing that both parties should agree on is that an accessible and affordable health care system should be available
to each and every american family, and i truly hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work with us to find common ground on health care that truly delivers better care. millions of americans have been suffering under president obama's health care law. and this past fall our nation voted for a change. these hardworking americans made it clear that fixing our health care must be a top priority for congress and the president. this week we're delivering on that promise of relief from obamacare. making america's health care system more efficient and effective has always been an important endeavor for the private and public sector along. president obama and his congressional democrats pushed washington into the health care market inflicting far greater uncertainty, cost, and disruption into the health care landscape than anyone ever imagined. by taking the important steps
necessary to untangle americans from this unworkable, unpopular, and unaffordable law, hardworking families can expect to see stability and skyrocketing health care costs and egregious penalties imposed on them by the obamacare concept of affordable care. if you're young and healthy, obamacare has made an easy choice to opt out for health coverage. but those not so fortunate, for those who must have coverage, soaring health care costs are becoming a stunning reality. i have constituents in wyoming who have written with me with worry and concern about their surging health insurance premi premiums. i assume that my 99 other colleagues have received many letters like one i received from a family in gillette, wyoming. they recently wrote me that under obamacare, they are paying more than $2,400 a month. essentially taking on more than
another mortgage. in their letter to me, they write, mike, we are small business owners in gillette, wyoming. between obama trying to kill the coal, oil, and gas industries and his insurance fraud, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. i just paid a $2,400 blue cross blue shield of wyoming health insurance bill. i can't keep doing that. i'm a real person with real problems created by my own government. help, mike, help. at last -- the last line of that letter is especially moving. help, mike, help. this is why republicans in congress and the president are focused on doing just that. helping hardworking americans like this family in wyoming. they are looking to us to provide real leadership and rescue them from the failed obamacare law. the previous administration seemed focus only on protecting their self-described signature
legislative achievement. our focus must be to address obamacare's tangled and expensive web of regulations. for families like my constituents, the situation is grim and only getting worse by the day. one of the most disturbing parts of this law is americans are now essentially double charged by having to pay more in taxes to fund the very health care law that's driving up the cost of their insurance premiums. let -- let me explain further. obamacare taxes have limited options for patients and health care providers, including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health insurance premiums, and medical devices. unless congress acts, american households will be forced to pay nearly $1 trillion in new taxes and penalties over the next ten years. individual and employer mandate
penalties force millions of hard-working families into expensive and terribly inadequate obamacare plans that they did not want and could not afford. obamacare's crushing regulations means smaller paychecks for families and prevents small businesses from expanding and hiring new workers. for every american, obamacare has meant more government, more bureaucracy, and more rules and regulations, along with soaring health care costs and few choices. working together, we can begin to lift the burdens on higher costs this law has imposed on all americans. the bill we're debating this week will begin to provide relief from obamacare that millions of hard-working americans have long demanded. fortunately america has a congress and -- to help the
insurance markets that left millions of americans with no options. the goal of the republican health care bill would be to improve the affordability of health insurance, preserve access care -- yes, preserve access to americans with preexisting conditions, to safeguard and strengthen medicaid for those who truly need it. this will accomplished by giving states more flexibility and ensuring those who rely on this program won't have the rug pulled out from under them. most importantly, we will free the american people from the onerous obamacare mandates to purchase insurance that they don't want and can't afford. the american people have endured a lot under obamacare, including every broken promise. we all remember president obama's promise to each and every american that if they
liked their health plan, they could keep it. well, americans soon learned they couldn't keep their plan or their doctor or any extra money in their wallet. the main reason for this is because obamacare invaded the insurance marketplace and drastically reduced americans choice of health care plans, and with it the competition necessary to contain the cost of health insurance. it was no surprise that the president's promise, if you like your plan, you can keep it, became the ultimate unfulfilled promises of obamacare. for many senators, especially from rural states like mine, the real impact of obamacare on our health insurance market is much more disturbing. wyoming currently has only one health insurer in the individual market, both on and off the
obamacare exchange. let me say that again so there's no mistake. there is only one health insurer either on or off the obamacare exchanges for all of wyoming -- one health insurance for all of wyoming. many states are experiencing a similar crisis. but with only one insurer left standing, since others have entirely abandoned the exchanges, so for those in wiping and others, -- wyoming and others tout -- they touted choice for americans. one and none, pu the none will cost you because of the mandate policy. yeah. you can't afford it, so you don't get it, then it costs you because of the mandate penalty. in wyoming i think that was.
what about the lower health care costs that provided the foundation for those on the other side of the aisle to pass this failed bill. even some have admitted that obamacare is failing to address costs with average premiums rising by 25% for silver-level plans on the exchange. that means that families have to decide whether to purchase unaffordable insurance or pay a fine. in most cases they are literally paying more money for less control of their health care. last october's dramatic premium increase was clearly on the minds of the voters when they cast their ballots in the november election. let me say that again. last october's dramatic premium increase was clearly on the minds of voters when they cast their ballots in the november election. they were some blame trying to
be placed on us for those increases but that was before last november's election. this is a crucial time for health care in america. we do not have the luxury of ignoring the crisis in health insurance markets and the crushing premiums faced by families across the country. health care costs for my constituents in wyoming continue to be among the highest in the nation with other states not far behind. we must act now to rescue the millions of americans who are suffering under obamacare in order to provide relief to those who have been harmed by this law. unwinding this failed law to make meaningful changes has not been easy, but americans are relying on us to accomplish this task and keep the promise to rescue them from obamacare. our goal is to create a health care system where washington gets out of the way and families are again empowered to control their own health care with more
choices and lower costs. so this is where we find ourselves today. congress and the president are fulfilling their promise to provide relief for millions of hard-working americans trapped by obama's taxes and mandates. we are not tied to any single idea. we hope our democratic colleagues will ultimately join us in this worthy endeavor. the american people are expecting us to act. we must not let them down. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: mr. president, since the republicans announced that their top legislative priority in this congress would be to rip away health care for millions of americans, i have come down to the floor many times to beg them to reconsider. i've shared stories about families in massachusetts who gained quality health care coverage for the first time
after the passage of the affordable care act. i shared statements and letters from hospitals and doctors in massachusetts talking about the incredible difference that health care coverage makes for the patients who walk through their doors. i've also shared many, many stories from parents with children who have complex medical needs. all of those children depending on medicaid. now, i know that families and doctors and hospitals and nursing homes and patients lying in their hospitals beds haven't just been sharing their stories with me. they have been begging every republican in the senate to listen to them as well. people shared their stories because they want to make a difference. these are stories of families we represent. they are our reason that we are here in the senate. they are supposed to be our guiding light for the choices we make and the way we vote.
senate republicans who voted yesterday to move forward with their effort to rip away americans' health care are not listening to the people they represent. their vote was irresponsible. it was reckless, it was cruel, it was immoral, but more than that, this was a vote that is not who we are as a country. let's be very clear about what's happening on the floor of the senate right now. 50 republicans have voted to open debate on a series of bills each of which would have devastating effects for health care in this country. now, the republicans don't know which of these bills will actually be the ones they'll be asked to vote on. only some of the bills have been analyzed by the number crunchers over at the congressional budget office, the c.b.o., to estimate exactly how many people would be kicked off insurance and how high premiums would go up.
but every version that the c.b.o. did examine over the last few weeks was really ugly. tens of millions of people losing their coverage and costs skyrocketing for millions more. the latest plan that senator mcconnell has been floating behind the scenes would have republicans ultimately vote on what is called, quote, a skinny repeal bill. this bill would make a limited set of changes to the affordable care act -- you know, just the important stuff. what's important to senator mcconnell? well, it seems to be the part of the affordable care act that makes the health insurance system actually work. because the skinny bail would repeal the -- the skinny bill would repeal parts of the a.c.a. that say that everyone needs health insurance coverage. this is the individual mandate. republican leadership is telling their members that if they vote
for this skinny bill, they can hammer out the rest of the details in conference with the house of representatives. maybe no mistake. this isn't a more modern version of the republicans' ugly plan to repeal the affordable care act. this isn't compromise. in fact, this may be the worst idea they've had yet. because if senate republicans vote to repeal the individual mandate, they are getting rid of the linchpin of the insurance markets in this country and that's because this provision, the one that the republicans want to junk, is what keeps the price of insurance affordable for people with preexisting conditions. now, don't just take my word for it. independent experts have looked at what would happen if the republicans repeal the individual mandate, and, boy, it is not pretty.
just yesterday the american academy of actuaries -- these are the experts who study how insurance works. they do that for a living. these are numbers number folks. they woe a -- wrote a letter to the senate leadership begging them not to go forward with this reckless plan. they wrote that eliminating this part of health law, quote, would likely have significant implications for health care and costs both to consumers and the federal government. they said that it would, quote, lead to premium increases. it would, quote, weaken insurer solvency. let me just do the translation on that. the actuaries, those are the professionals who study insurance for a living, are saying that what the senate republicans are thinking of voting on is a provision to jack up insurance costs through the roof and rip away coverage from those who can't afford to pay
those higher costs. we should be very clear about consequences here. if the republicans go through with that vote -- if they go through with that vote -- senate republicans will be responsible for every dollar of premium increases that occur over the weeks and months that follows as this bill sits in a conference with the house and insurance companies jack up prices because they don't know what they might be required to cover. senate republicans will be responsible for every single person who has to drop coverage because they can't afford those price increases. the senate republicans will be responsible for every single person who didn't go to the doctor when they needed to or didn't schedule surgery when they needed to because they no longer had health insurance. senate republicans will be responsible for every family in
this country that misses a mortgage payment or that can't pay their electricity bill or forced into bankruptcy because their medical debts have become too big ever to pay off. you know, every time i come to the floor to talk about this terrible republican bill, i have said i am ready to work on a bipartisan proposal that will actually improve health care in this country, and i say it again. i am still ready to do that. but we cannot move forward while senate republicans are still trying to take away health care coverage for millions of americans and drive up costs for millions more. the republicans seem to think they can ware us down -- wear us down. that they can keep us here until we get too tired and give up or just give in, but, boy, that's where they are wrong. they don't have a clue what they
are up against because we're fighting for families, we're fight pg for little kids -- fighting for little kids, we're fighting if for our neighbors, we are fighting for parents, sisters, brothers, and loved ones, we're fighting for the american people and when you fight for american people, the wind is always at your back, your heart is always strong. so democrats will be here fighting for as long as it takes, to beat back these shameful health care bills. we hear the american people. we hear you. we are on your side, and we will never give up. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: mr. president, first of all, i want to thank my friend, the senator from massachusetts, for her comments
today and for her relentless willingness to take on this fight and so many other fights that are so important to our country. i come to join her call both to point out some of the challenges in this legislation, but also to make an appeal to my friends on the other side that this doesn't have to be the way we go. the truth is -- and i have been one of the ones who acknowledged for many years there are challenges in the affordable care act, and there are areas where there could be common interests in finding solutions, but what we have before us now, what we have before us now are a series of bad, badder and baddest choices. in fact, we have a series of options that say do we want to
pass legislation that would take 16 million americans off of health care? do we want to pass legislation that would take 22 million americans off of health care? do we want to pass legislation that would take 32 million americans off of health insurance? what part of these choices do my republican colleagues really embrace? i think in the eight years that i have been here, i have never seen serious pieces of legislation that have been so unpopular even before they are passed than this litany of options from full repeal to skinny repeal and all the variations in between. and add has been said, the senator from massachusetts, i know the senator from washington state as well, that the american people know this. that's why our phones are ringing in our offices and i know our senate colleagues,
republican colleagues, saying don't pass this kind of legislation. i think about the fact that in the last couple of weeks, i had the parents of a number of children and young adults who had enormous disabilities come to my office, and being in virginia, we run a very skinny medicaid program. frankly, it's not been very generous. some of the individuals that come to my office have waited five, six, one person ten years to get a medicaid waiver. these families, these children, in any of the proposals that we put forward, would be the first to lose their coverage. family after family talked about the fact that right now both parents can work because they have got a little bit of relief to take care of their disabled, in certain cases young adult, in many cases because of some of this work that young adult can at least find some place to do some productive work themselves. but if they were to lose a
medicaid waiver, one of the parents would have to stop working, their child would have to stop their form of unemployment, and that would be a loss not only to that family but it would be a loss to our economy. in medicaid -- i mentioned i used to be the governor of virginia. in 2016, virginia received about $4 billion in federal medicaid funds. 51% of the state's funding for people covered by medicaid. and as i mentioned, we ranked one of the skinniest programs in the country. unfortunately, we rank about 47th, i believe, in terms of our payments. yet under any of these proposals that decimate medicaid, virginia would be penalized for running an efficient program. again, one of the ironies of this is that the states who are the least penalized in the
republican proposals in terms of the $700 billion-plus of medicaid cuts are actually the states that have more generous programs, often states that are represented by democratic governors. in what way do these proposals help our republican colleagues or for that matter their constituents? we have heard as well the american cancer society, the american medical association, the american academy of pediatrics, the hospital association, the aarp, a who's who of groups affiliated with health care come in and plead please don't do it this way. any one of this litany of proposals that we'll be dealing with over the next few days. what i have heard on an individual basis, and i take enormous pride in the fact that in my time here and sometimes it's even gotten me crosswise with the ranking member of the help committee. i have tried to reach out on
virtually every piece of legislation i work with and find a republican partner. i actually got put in time-out by a previous leader for doing too much of that. what i hear from my republican colleagues is they don't want to own this. they know in many ways this is walking the plank on what is both bad policy, bad politics, bad for their constituents, but this notion that somehow they have got to provide a win for a president that's provided zero leadership before they can take some kind of august recess is literally the worst reasoning i've heard in my eight years in the senate on why to pass a piece of legislation, particularly a piece of legislation that affects a sixth of our economy, in many ways almost a third of people who will be affected by some of
these changes. so i would ask -- and i think many of us were touched yesterday when we saw senator mccain, who is an american hero, who is he himself having to grapple with enormous health care challenges, come back to the floor and frankly admonish us, appropriately, but also say that while he was going to vote to start debate on this bill, that the real way we ought to go about doing this is let's roll up our sleeves in a bipartisan fashion, take this legislation back to where it should start in the help committee where the senator from washington serves, the budget committee where i know the chairman is on the floor, the finance committee, two of those three committees i have the honor of serving on. i commit to my republican colleagues that i will work with them. i've laid out a series of ideas.
some of them which they have endorsed in terms of potentially cheaper options in terms of sleks. the idea as long as we protect consumers of allowing insurance policies to be sold across state lines, other ideas in terms of reinsurance that other colleagues have worked on. there is a host of ideas that we all agree on. but let's start with that premise in terms of coming to a solution. not coming up with legislation that is cooked up behind closed doors that even my strongest republican colleagues have acknowledged they can't vote on when they only get an hour to look at. think about all the same criticisms, some of them valid, that were made against the democrats when we passed the a.c.a. although i would continue to remind my friends that we had literally hundreds of amendments that were republican amendments that were accepted into that legislation. it wasn't a perfect process, but let's learn from that and take this advantage right now, listen
to the american public, and work together to get this right. the closing comment i want to make is this -- the other item that will come about from any of this republican legislation put forward. even the skinniest of their proposals would be -- would dramatically affect those individuals with preexisting conditions. i have got three daughters. one of my daughters has juvenile diabetes. she has it -- has had it for 18 years. another daughter has asthma and a very strange set of allergic reactions that's actually had her hospitalized 38 times in the last 40 months. i'm an extraordinarily lucky individual. i knew that both through health insurance and because i had the resources, every time my two children got sick, i could make sure they got the medical attention they deserved.
i can't imagine talking to any virginia family or washington family or wyoming family or arkansas family and trying to explain to them they have that child with those same afflictions my kids have got, juvenile diabetes, asthma and allergic reactions that through no fault of their own cause this number of hospitalizations, how i could somehow say my kids have got a right to health care and their kids who have got preexisting conditions don't have that right. our country's much, much better than that. we can figure out a way to get this right, but we're not going to get it right if we continue to have this ploy of one closed door, cookedup deal after another put forward with no review and no real attempt to find a common solution.
so i make -- i don't come to the floor that often, and i don't often talk about my family, but for the sake of not only my kids who get the coverage they need and deserve, but for all of the kids who now get the coverage they didn't have prior to the a.c.a., who have it now, the idea that insurance companies cannot discriminate against you because you have preexisting conditions, let's see if we can make sure we maintain that commitment. let's see if we can work through in the greatest country of the world, as senator mccain so eloquently put yesterday, make this body once again the greatest deliberative body in the world. let's see if we can find that common ground that would allow us to put forward legislation that we would at the end of the day all be proud of. that's a goal worth working on, and my hope is over the coming days, we'll find that common
group of senators who will say we're going to take that path rather than the path we're on right now. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i hope that all senators in this chamber took the time to listen to the very wise words from the senator from virginia on the fact that we are facing real issues in this country and that when we work together and go through the regular process of committee hearings and no secret negotiations and back-room deals, that we can lead this country in the way it should be led. and i thank him for coming out on the floor and reminding us that that is how we get things done in a way that america accepts it. but we're not here having had committee hearings or process or anything. we are here because of back-room deals that have brought us to
this floor in a time that no one can accept the fact that all the proposals are a result so far of how many millions of people will lose insurance. 22 million, 15 million, 24 million. that's what we're debating here, and that's a terrible debate. that's not what we should be talking about, but that is the proposals we're being offered. and again, democrats are here and we're not giving up, and we're going to fight any effort to pass trumpcare until the last possible moment, because that will be the result. we are going to speak out for families nationwide, children and parents and patients, people with disabilities and seniors and people have called and tweeted and marched and filled our office halls. so many people are worried and frankly scared right now. families who are being kept in the dark by our republican colleagues and are being left to wonder what might happen to their health care, their financial security and even their lives.
mr. president, it is appalling that the majority of republicans were willing to go along with this plan and move to begin debate without even knowing what bill they would be debating. but last night, the vast majority of the senate did something unusual. it showed just how much agreement there actually could be among us. 57 republicans and democrats agreed to reject a full trumpcare replacement bill and sent a message that we agree with senator mccain, that we should stop letting the, quote, bombastic loudmouths, unquote, drive our work, and instead return to regular order and get back to work on policies that actually help the people that we are here to represent. mr. president, there are responsible republicans who disagree with the way republican leaders have hidden their
legislation from democrats and the public throughout this process, who think there should be an open, transparent process with both sides at the table, and who want hearings and public debate rather than back-room deals and secret negotiations. well, i do as well, and i know many of my democratic colleagues agree. so now that it is clear that there is absolutely no path to full trumpcare here in the senate, what is the reason for continuing this damaging, rushed, deeply partisan effort here on the floor to jam just any bill through the senate? together we can do a lot better than a lowest common denominator bill which simply sends trumpcare to conference with the house and then give the freedom caucus a blank check to gut medicaid and put insurance companies back in charge of people's health care and more. because let's be clear.
the only reason to pass a cobbled together, last-minute floor on the bill is to keep the extreme conservative dream of repealing trumpcare alive. no matter what that means for patients and families. i truly believe there's a better way to get this done right, and it is to stop what senate republican leaders are doing right now and start over. so once again i ask my republican colleagues to drop this partisan effort. join us at the table. let's work together to improve families' health care like so many of us truly do want to do. my door is open and i'm ready to get started. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor..
mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. no one should normalize what's happening on the senate floor right now. we are all awaiting for the white smoke to come out of republican leadership offices so that the millions and millions of very scared people in my state will be able to see what is about to happen to their lives. this isn't a game. people's lives are at stake. people's health is at stake. and yet because this debate now is devoid of policy and substance and seemingly just about delivering a political victory to republicans, we wait
and we wait and we wait. and people are scared. all over the capitol today there are parents of children with disabilities, many of which rely on medicaid in order to keep their children alive. i've spent a lot of time with them over the course of the last six months because to them the measure of a civilization is how it treats the most vulnerable. and their kids with these deep disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable. and for muscle of the last six months i've seen anger that their eyes, anger that congress would choose to hurt their kids or to force their family to go bankrupt. yesterday i saw something new in their eyes. i saw fear. i saw deep debilitating fear
because they sense that we were on the precipice of doing something that they didn't think was possible. a piece of legislation passing the senate and the house that would deliberately and intentionally hurt their children. there's no way around it. it's not hyperbole. the house bill that we are debating right now, it guts medicaid to the point where 15 million people, the most vulnerable americans, would lose access to health care. i know it's very hard for people in this chamber to understand because we all have really good health care, but when you have an expensive disease or your child has an expensive disease and you lose insurance, you can't pay for it. you can sell your house. you can sell your car. you can exhaust your savings. and for some families that will cover six months worth of
expenses for their sick child. at some point the patient dies if they don't have access to health care. and so people are scared. they are really scared. and they're scared not just at the consequences of the house bill eventually passing, but they're also scared at the casualness with which this debate seems to treat their plight. there are rumors now that at the end of this process, we are going to vote on what has been described as a stripped-down gutted version of the original republican health care bill. it might have one or two provisions in it, maybe the elimination of the individual mandate, maybe the elimination of a few taxes.
and the intent would be to essentially punt the more comprehensive debate about what our health care system is going to look like to a conference committee. i want to talk about that for a few moments and what the consequences of that are. first, i want to talk about what the consequences are if that end result is achieved for the united states senate. why do my colleagues choose to run for the united states senate if they are prepared to surrender the biggest policy decision that they will likely face to the house of representatives? why go through all the trouble of running -- of raising all the money, of getting all the votes to become a u.s. senator if you aren't prepared to actually render an opinion and pass a bill on the biggest priority issue facing this country right
now, the future of the american health care system? republicans have been unable to come up with a bill that can get 50 votes. why? because you refuse to engage with democrats. and so now the solution is to punt by passing a stripped down version of the bill, handing all power to the house of representatives, surrendering to the house of representatives. what's the point of being a u.s. senate if you're actually not going to make policy, if you're going to hand over the keys of policy making to the representatives. this is the united states senate, and i disagreed with senator mccain's vote yesterday, but i heard the speech that he gave to us, that this should be the place where we should make the big, tough decisions about the future of
the american economy. and the senate will put an out of business sign on the outside of this chamber if we pass a scaled-down version of this bill that admits we can't come to a conclusion. what's the point of being a united states senator if you just hand this debate over to the house of representatives? and by the way, that is what will happen. if the senate goes to conference with the house of representatives, and there is only one bill in that conference and that's what will happen, if a stripped down-down bill goes to conference, the house bill will be the only one in the conference committee and the house bill will become law. the house bill will survive. it may have some small cosmetic amendments to it, but all of the power will be given to the house of representatives in those negotiations because there's only one idea that will be
present. and so let's go back for a moment and remember what was in that house bill that so many of my republican colleagues told me was deeply objectionable to them and would never get a vote on the senate floor. 23 million people lose insurance, rates go up by 15% to 20%, people with preexisting conditions in most states likely will lose all protections available to them. insurance plans won't have to cover maternity care, mental illness, addiction any longer, medicaid gone, as we know it, to my small state with an $8 million medicaid program, a $3 million cut, children losing their ability to stay alive because they lose their health care insurance, seniors in nursing homes being put out on the street.
that is not hyperbole, that is will what will happen if you kick people off of insurance. that bill would go to conference because the senate let it happen. the short-term consequence is that -- is in that this scaled-down bill will reportedly include an elimination of the individual mandate, insurance markets will fall apart. everybody here knows, whether you're a republican or democrat, that the only way you guarantee that people get priced the same, if they are sick or not sick, is to require people to buy insurance when they are not sick. in fact, republicans know that because in their bill that they wrote behind closed doors, they included an individual mandate. they did. it was designed in a different way. they said if you don't buy
insurance, you will be penalized by being locked out for six months, but they had a penalty if you don't buy insurance. both plubs and democrats understand that in order for the insurance markets to work as they are regulated today, you need to encourage people to buy insurance when they are healthy and penalize them if they don't. the republican bill does that just like the affordable care act does that. so if you pass a bill that removes that mandate, then every insurance adjust he, every actuary who works for a health insurance company, the market will crater because no one will buy insurance. healthy people won't buy insurance, health rates go up, it collapses. that is the short-term conference, telling insurance companies that you are getting rid of the individual mandate even if that's not the final result that telegraph signal at
a point where insurers are rethinking the markets because of the sabotaged campaign that president trump has undertaken would be catastrophic. this is not a game. these stakes are big and the casualness with which the people are approaching this debate is scaring the life out of people in my state, out of parents of kids with disabilities, of folks that are dealing with sickness and illness all across this country. it is not too late. we don't have a communicable disease, we are not going to physically harm republicans if they come talk to us. it is time to abandon this republican-only approach, come work with democrats. let's jointly own the problems that still exist in the being health care system, jointly own the solution. people are scared of what is happening in the united states
senate today and there is a different way. i yield the floor. mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: what's the time situation? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming controls 24 minutes. the senator from washington controls one minute. the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i ask that july wells be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i want to say that the field hearings that i have had -- i ask unanimous consent that all of the testimony be put in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: have shown me that people not only fear but
justifiably will be hurt forever by this sabotage of our exchanges, by the repeal of the affordable care act, whether it's called a skinny repeal or by any other name, it will fundamentally decimate medicaid, it will put americans out on the streets from nursing homes and it will mean that people who need treatment for opioids, the consequences to them and many, many others that i have seen in connecticut and around the country will be absolutely devastating. and so this shameful and senseless step toward gutting the affordable care act has left millions not only in fear, but in potential real jeopardy. we can do better and the people of connecticut and around the country know we can do better. we owe it to our democracy to go
through the regular order, as senator mccain urged us to do, and to make sure that we fulfill our promise -- our oath -- that we will uphold the constitution and do what's right for the american people. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. enzi: mr. president, i yield such time as the senator from kentucky needs. mr. paul: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: as a physician and eye surgeon, i have seen obamacare up close, and it's not working for americans. if you look across the country, you say, is it working? you find that obamacare premiums have doubled for those in the individual marketplace in just a few short years. you find that the obamacare insurance mandates have caused 4.7 million people to lose the insurance that they chose. if you like your doctor, you can keep him or her. that was the promise and it was
a lie. 4.7 million people were told they couldn't choose that insurance they want and couldn't choose their doctor. it is estimated there are 800,000 few jobs because of obamacare. how does that happen? well, if you work 32 hours a week and your employer has to give insurance at 30 hours, guess what happens, some people get moved to 28 hours. you add up all of those hours and millions of people are working fewer hours. who are the people who got shafted by obamacare? often working-class people. in my state there are 25,000 people that pay a fine because they can't afford obamacare. these 25,000 people make less than $25,000 a year. they are our working class and obamacare punishes them and says, you have to pay a fine. and they say, well, i wish i had insurance, but obamacare added all of that he's mandates, things that i can't afford.
sure, everybody wants to have everything under the sun covered by their insurance but when you mandate that, you elevate the price of insurance. so what has happened? young, healthy people have lost their insurance and don't buy insurance in droves. obamacare says you can come back any time after you're sick and buy your insurance. now, that sounds good, but what it leads to is the death spiral of obamacare. obamacare premiums have doubled because the young, healthy people are saying it costs too much and the sicker and sicker people are the only ones left in insurance. this is what happens when you let the government get involved in the marketplace. if you allow the marketplace to work, what is the one universal feature of capitalism? you get the lowest amount of cost and the most amount of goods distributed to the most amount of people. right now under obamacare 50% of
america has one choice. what does that mean? a monopoly. who wants the insurance company to have a monopoly? when the insurance companies have monopolies, the prices get doubled. there are some parts of our country now that have no choice in the individual market. so if you're a plumber or a welder or a captainer, you have to -- carpenter, you have to buy insurance in the individual market, many places in america you have no choice. in half of america if you buy insurance by yourself, if you're not part of a large group, in half of america there is one choice and monopoly and monopoly prices. in my state alone, 50,000 kentuckians have to pay a tax. they have to pay a fine because they can't afford obamacare, but they are regular working people an -- but they do work and pay taxes. they pay a fine. we pay $16 million in fines just in my state.
that is happening across america. how did that become a legislative plan to force people to buy stuff they don't want and extract money out of their paycheck if you don't do what you tell them? ultimately americans should remember that obamacare is predicated on force and coercion. obamacare dictates what kind of insurance you can get and makes you pay a fine if you don't get what the politicians tell you you must get. president obama basically told you you are too stupid to make your choices. these people who want to dictate to you, they are elitist, they think they know better than you what kind of insurance you should get. if you don't buy the insurance they want you to get, they will fine you. if you don't buy their insurance, they will jail you. how is that consistent with the american ideal of freedom? this debate is more than just actuarial tables of we get
dragged down into the debate and think it is about the health care wonkiness, it is about freedom of choice. it is whether you as an american want insurance or don't want insurance, whether you want insurance that is expensive or not. they have a special tax in there if you have good insurance. first they tell you what kind of insurance to buy and then they tell you you have too good insurance. if you're in a union or executive and your insurance is good, obamacare will tell you that they will tax you because your insurance is too good. they will dictate what kind of insurance you can get and when you buy it, they say, you've got too much, so you have to pay a tax it that isn't the american way. today we will vote on a bill we voted on many times. the senate itself vowed on this two years ago. it's the identical bill. we're going to vote on a bill we vetted on two years -- voted on two years ago and i hope
everybody who vowed for it will -- voted for it will vote for it again. it is a clean bill. it is not cluttered with insurance company bailouts, it is just trying to peel back obamacare. now, while it is a clean repeal, it is only a partial repeal. why snr it is only a partial repeal because we have arcane senate bills that say we can't repeal the whole thing. because we are only repealing part of it, obamacare will remain. even if we're successful with this bill, at least half of obamacare remains. bad things remain. all of the mandates on what you have to purchase on your insurance will remain. that doesn't mean we shouldn't do this, the other side doesn't want to help. the other side has never met a repeal they -- a tax they want to lower. if you want to get rid of the taxes it has to be done today. people say, well, this doesn't have the replacement. sure, we should replace
obamacare. i have been advocating that from the beginning. we have to figure out what that replacement is. the only way to be forced into a bipartisan compromise is if we repeal it. if we don't repeal it, there is no impetus to repeal it on replacing it. if you repeal it, the other side will say, my goodness, we have to do something because they repealed the subsidies in this medicaid expansion. so they will say, we will work with you now, but everything else is false. they will not work on repealing one regulation or one tax. that heavy lift is left to republicans, and my hope is that republicans would band together and say, sure, this isn't everything i wanted, it's not everything i want. it's an impartial repeal. it leaves in place a lot of obamacare that we should get rid of, and we should continue to try to get rid of these federal mandates on insurance. but this is a beginning, and it's all we are being offered up
as a beginning, but it is a victory for those of us in america who said enough's enough. my government shouldn't be telling me what i can buy and what i cannot buy. my government should not tell me which doctor i can choose and which doctor i have to leave behind. the government should not be involved in my health care business. i want to be left alone. the right to privacy, the right to be left alone is a fundamental right of americans. that's what this is about. it's about freedom of choice. it is not about actuarial tables. it is not about federal government designing the perfect health care system. the federal government cannot deliver the mail. all right. they lose a billion dollars a quarter delivering your mail. do you want them in charge of your doctor? do you want them in charge of your insurance? this is the one chance we get today. we will have a chance to repeal obamacare. we will have a chance to fulfill our promise to the american voter. now, there is a partisan divide.
democrats are for keeping it. republicans are for repealing it, but republicans made a promise. we made a promise to the american people to repeal it. there may be some republicans today who say i'm not voting to repeal any longer. things have changed. the problem is that we're not going to get towards the solution if we don't begin to repeal. the other thing about this repeal is there is a two-year window in which part of the repeal doesn't take place for two years. over that two years, my guess is we will have impetus from the other side to actually begin to negotiate. currently, there are 27 million people in america without insurance. you would think from all the talk that obamacare has covered every value and republicans are against that. count me as one republican who wants to figure out how to
insure the 27 million who don't have insurance. of the 27 million people who don't have insurance under obamacare, half of them don't buy insurance because it's too expensive. why is it too expensive? because obamacare dictates about 15 different things that every insurance policy has got to have. vision, hearing, pregnancy, you name it, it's all on there. should everybody want it? everybody wants it. but if you can put it on every insurance policy, not everybody is going to be able to afford it, so you force people out of the market. 27 million people don't have insurance, and half of them say they can't get it because it's too expensive. where is the problem in insurance? if you are here today visiting in washington and you work for toyota or ford or general motors or any big american company, any big corporation in our country, if you work for them, my guess is you're not worried about your wife getting sick and they fire you from your job or raise your rates. what happens when you have group
insurance is if your family member gets sick, you don't lose your job, your insurance rates really don't change and you continue on with your life. you still have the tragedy to deal with of someone in your family being sick, but if you have group insurance, it seems to work in our country. so what you're talking about is the individual insurance market. we're talking about the plumber, the pesk control guy, the carpenter, the welder, the farmer, the people who are in a small business. either they have a few employees or it's just them. that's what we are talking about. it is horribly broken. i don't wish it on any american. i wish no american had to buy any insurance in the individual market. in fact, what i am proposing would so disrupt the individual market that maybe everyone would leave. i'm trying to give an exit ramp to everybody in the individual market to get the hell out of the individual market because the individual market is a terrible place to be. if you are a farmer in america and you buy insurance for you and your wife and your wife gets breast cancer, you are not only
deathly afraid for her health, you are deathly afraid your insurance rates will be double, triple, or you will be dropped. i don't care whether you're a republican, an independent, or a democrat, people in the individual market do worry. we have had people here worried that people are going to lose their health insurance. the individual market is a terrible place to be. so what should we do? should we give like hundreds of billions of dollars to the insurance company and say please insure these people and make sure their rates aren't too high? well, i don't like that because i'm not for crony capitalism. these companies make billions of dollars a year in profit. i'm not for giving them one penny of your money. you know what i want? i want something that doesn't cost anything. doesn't cost one penny and would completely transform health care insurance in this country. i want to legalize, i want to make it open to every american that you can go out with an association, across state lines and buy your insurance as part
of a group. what would that mean? in my state, the farm bureau has 33,000 people, but when you go to the farm bureau to buy your insurance, you get an individual policy. a farmer and his wife and their family get a policy. it's just them. well, they are not really protected by the group. they don't get the leverage of price and they are not protected. if they get sick, their rates are based on them and their family. why don't we let them join together? why not all the farmers in the country? there is probably a million farmers in the farm bureau throughout the farm bureau. what if the american farm bureau had an association and one person negotiated for them? i don't think we can overstate the negotiating value of a group. in china recently, they negotiated for patented medicines, and they reduced the price by 67%. groups can negotiate prices down. this is a free market reform. this is collective bargaining for consumers. i can't see why either side -- i'm still hopeful no matter where this goes that at some point in time when partisan
fervor dies down, that we can go to the other side and say what's so wrong with collective bargaining? i thought you were for collective bargaining for labor. why not be for collective bargaining for consumers? let the consumers band together. aarp has 33 million people. what if one person negotiated the rate for their insurance and their drugs? my guess is they would have the lowest drug prices in the world and more people would want to join aarp. what if the credit unions -- there are about 20 million people in credit unions, maybe more across the united states. what if you could join your credit union, you became part of a national association to buy your insurance? the leverage of 20 million people would be maybe 40, 50 times bigger than america's biggest corporation. so right now if you're with general motors and you're a big corporation, you have leverage to bring your prices down. what if you were in a corporation 20 times bigger than general motors, an association that negotiated your prices?
this is freedom, though. this isn't a government plan. this is the federal government saying you're allowed to do what you want, you're allowed to collectively bargain as consumers. i think there is every chance we could fix a lot of the market. would there be anybody left behind? we have terrible tragedies. i spent my adult career in medicine. i have seen the terrible tragedies, the terrible disabilities, the terrible neurologic disorders that people are born with and have to live their lives with. those exceptions will be treated and are treated. frankly, one of the misunderstandings of this debate is that any republican is up here talking about trying to take away stuff from those who are disabled, who can't work, and do have to have care. that's traditional medicaid. and they will continue to be cared for. under this, we're only talking about able-bodied people. should able-bodied people, should people who walk around, hop out of their truck, should they be working, should they be providing for their health insurance? yes. can there be a transition zone?
yeah, we have transition kind of programs between unemployment back to employment. but we shouldn't have people permanently unemployed. we shouldn't have people permanently on benefits who don't work or won't work, and really there should be work requirements. i'm not afraid to say that every able-bodied person who is on medicaid ought to work. there should be a work requirement. i meet many people on both sides of the aisle who are for that. and i don't say they should work as punishment. i think everybody in america should work as reward. i think work is a reward. i don't care whether you are from the lowest job on the totem pole to the top, to the chief executive, work is where you get self-esteem. no one can give you self-esteem. your self-esteem comes from work. i think we're wrong. i think what we have done in some cases, we now have multigenerational dependency on government, and they are so distraught and so lacking in self-esteem that it also compounds our drug problem that we have. some say we need more medicaid money to fight the drug problem.
i worry that more medicaid trips to the doctor may actually be part of the drug problem, the dependencies coming from oxycontin which the drug company says was not addictive but everybody got put on oxycontin because it wasn't addictive, a lot of our heroin and oxycontin problem came out of going to the doctor. if we were to get everybody out of the individual market into group insurance, there would be some people left behind, but my hope is there would be a small amount of people and we 0 would know after a year or two. let's see what it is. we already have a safety net. the other side is acting as if there is no safety net. we have had a safety net for decade after decade. the safety net is medicaid. if your child has a disability, nobody's trying to take that away from them. but the thing is we have to try to fix what we have. we need to understand that what we're looking at, what we're trying to fix isn't just sort of some kind of policy that nobody can understand, health care
policy that's very technical an detailed. it's about freedom. do you think that the -- that every american should get to choose, that every american get to choose what kind of insurance they have and whether they have insurance or not. this is about freedom of choice. it isn't about whether we want people to be insured. so when you hear these hyperbolic statements saying all these people are going to die, republicans want people to die. those hyperbolic statements aren't really helpful to the debate. i do not question the motives of any of the democrats as far as wanting to provide care. i never questioned president obama's desire to help poor people, help people get insurance. it's to me more of a question of what will work. what distributes goods better -- socialism or capitalism? look at the soviet union. we defeated the soviet union because capitalism defeated socialism. socialism doesn't work. when the government fixes the prices, it doesn't work. so are we going to have some government involvement?
yes. but because government is so pitiful at anything they do, we should minimize government's involvement in any industry. if we say government has to be involved to take care of the poor, let's do it at the state level and not the federal level. people ask me, are the people in government inherently stupid. and i say no, but it's a debatable question. and the reason, the reason is this -- government doesn't get the proper incentives, and they are too distant from the people, and we have a printing press. so what is the fundamental deceit of obamacare? and this is the -- it's the fundamental problem of all government, but it's the fundamental deceit of obamacare, and it is this. they said everybody's going to get free health care. everybody has got medicaid and you don't have to pay for it, the states don't have to pay for it, nobody is taxed for it. we are going to at the federal government pay for it. but the problem is federal government can't pay for most of the things we have already got. we already had medicaid we couldn't pay for.
we already had medicare we were short of money for. we already had social security we were short of. what do we do, we borrow the money. our deficit this year will be $500 billion. our deficit next year will be a trillion dollars. so that is the real question. it isn't do you want to help people. it's how are you going to pay for it? if this were done at the state level, what would happen? if the state of kentucky wants to keep the expansion, we have expanded medicaid to 450,000 people. the question should be should we double the state income tax in kentucky. if that went to the state legislature, they would have to balance competing concerns. if we double the state tax to pay for it, we live right next to tennessee that has no state income tax, would we possibly lose existing businesses, existing jobs, or would we also encourage new businesses not to come to kentucky? that would be a valid debate. we want to help people, but what are the ramifications of it? in washington, it is said there are no ramifications because everything goes to the debt. everything just piles up. we have a $20 trillion debt.
whose fault is it? both parties. under george bush, the debt went from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. under president obama, it went from $10 trillion to $20 trillion. both parties are at fault. but the entitlements are consuming us. so how would we possibly move forward with a bill that sets up a new insurance entitlement, as some of the republican plans wanted to do? we can't pay for the current entitlements. so as we look forward today to the solution, what i would say is that there are alternatives, that we really shouldn't question the motives of those across the aisle, the same they shouldn't question ours. i want more people to have insurance at a lower cost. we should have a disagreement on how it works. i think capitalism works better than socialism. i think we should minimize government's involvement because government's not very good at distributing anything. just look at the mail. but i also think there are excing