Vermont Business Magazine On the Senate Floor this afternoon, Senator Patrick Leahy addressed the Senate on the pending Republican-authored legislation to enable and facilitate repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare. The vehicle being used by Republican leaders for this is a budget resolution, S.Con.Res.3, “To Instruct Committees To Draft Legislation To Repeal The ACA.”
Floor Remarks Of Senator Patrick Leahy
On The Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 3
(To Instruct Committees To Draft Legislation To Repeal The ACA)
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The 115th Congress convened just last week, and instead of beginning the year with a renewed sense of cooperation, Republicans in Congress have chosen a different path. The very first thing on the agenda is to press forward with a sham budget – the only purpose of which is to set up a process to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority vote.
Why? Because they know such a repeal would never pass otherwise. Instead of working to finalize appropriations bills for this year – already more than three months in – or to invest in our nation’s critical infrastructure, or to truly bolster our nation’s cybersecurity, or to improve the Affordable Care Act to ensure more people can receive affordable coverage, Republicans are recklessly rushing forward solely to fulfill an ill-considered campaign promise. They are pushing American families over the cliff with the vague ‘promise’ that eventually they will come up with a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Jump first, plan later is anything but a responsible formula for sound decisions, and all the more so when the health insurance of tens of millions of American families is at stake.
The Majority Leader and others have said that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act is “only the first step.” They say that a full repeal is necessary to pave the way for a replacement. “Let’s leave Obamacare in the past,” they argue. When you strip away the rhetoric, the only alternative being offered to the American people by advocates of a repeal is: Don’t get sick.
The American people have the right to know what a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act really means. A repeal of this law would not just take away the rights and care of millions of patients and their families; it would eliminate insurance coverage for millions more, from the aging and elderly, to men and women with preexisting conditions, to the most vulnerable children.
A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would turn back the clock to a time when, once again, women would have to pay more for health insurance than men, insurance companies could rescind a health insurance policy because someone gets sick, and coverage could forever be denied to someone born with a disease or ailment.
In Vermont, the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of Vermonters without insurance by 53 percent. Tens of thousands have gained coverage under the expansion of Medicaid. And because the Affordable Care Act closed the prescription drug “donut hole,” more than 10,000 Vermont seniors saved $12 million on drugs in 2015 alone.
I have heard stories from many Vermonters about how vital this law is to them and their families. I have heard from family doctors, like one in Bennington who remembers when his patients couldn’t afford treatment because of lifetime and annual limits on health care coverage. Or a woman from Westminster whose family hit hard times and moved from job to job but could afford to keep continuous health coverage because of the plans offered through the Affordable Care Act. Other young Vermonters are able to pursue careers in public service or the arts because they can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Countless others have underscored that because of previous health issues such as diabetes or cancer, health coverage would be unaffordable without the guarantees and subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have gone to new lengths to repeat and prolong this political battle. And that’s all this is. They have had six years to propose a better alternative but have failed to do that. Instead, Congressional Republicans and the President-elect have decided to put the cart before the horse and dismantle our health care system before figuring out how to fix it. The American people rightly expect us to work together to make progress on so many challenges that we face today. Instead, we are engaged in dangerous political gamesmanship.
I will not support a return to less protection, less coverage, less fairness, and higher costs. That’s what repeal means. The Affordable Care Act extended health insurance to millions of families in Vermont and across the country. Those who represent the American people in Congress should stand ready to get to work for their constituents. I will not support an effort to reverse the many reforms and achievements we made through the Affordable Care Act, and instead cobble back together a broken system that for too long burdened most American households with health coverage uncertainty and crippling costs.
Source: Leahy 1.10.2017