Schumer Floor Remarks On Republican Efforts To Expand Junk Insurance Plans And Eliminate Vital Health Care Protections

October 10, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Democratic efforts to roll back the GOP’s health care sabotage this week and save protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Democrats have long believed that good health care for every American is a right, not a privilege. It’s a tradition that was etched into our party by Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson, Clinton and Obama. We believe it’s wrong to allow insurers to discriminate against women, older Americans, and folks with pre-existing conditions. We believe it’s wrong to allow insurers to put a cap on your insurance or to offer insurance so threadbare that it hardly counts as insurance at all. That’s why the Affordable Care Act prohibited these abuses by insurance companies. Our Republican friends seem to want to say ‘The best way to get healthcare is put yourself in the hands of your insurance company.’ We don’t believe that.

For the past two years, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have tried to wrench our country back to a time when all of those abuses and loopholes were commonplace, a time when insurance companies could do whatever they wanted. They’ve tried to repeal our healthcare law, gut Medicaid, and cause 20 million fewer Americans to have insurance. President Trump has ended a program that helps low-income Americans afford insurance. Congressional Republicans repealed the coverage requirement, causing an unnecessary and completely avoidable increase to premiums this year. And Republican attorneys general across the country, many now running for a seat in this chamber, filed a lawsuit that would repeal protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.


Today on the floor, the Senate has the opportunity to put a stop to the relentless sabotage of our healthcare system. My friend, and one of the great leaders in healthcare in the chamber, Senator Baldwin has put forward a motion to repeal the Trump Administration’s rule to expand short-term insurance plans. Short-term insurance plans lure consumers in with low rates but fail to provide adequate coverage – many don’t cover maternity care, mental health treatment, prescription drugs costs, and more. These plans are junk insurance, period, no ands, ifs, or buts. Junk. We prohibited them in the past. This administration wants these junk insurance plans to run rampant and let people be duped into thinking they’re having insurance when it covers almost nothing. They’re a massive risk to any American family who purchases them, and worse, they cause rates to go up for everyone else, even those who elect not to buy one.

That’s why traditionally nonpartisan organizations like the American Cancer Society, the AARP and the Lung Association have come out in staunch opposition. The AARP, for instance, says that the junk insurance would “force millions of older Americans to choose either inadequate coverage or comprehensive coverage that is unaffordable.”

Now, my Republican friends say they support these plans because they give Americans another choice. But if you asked Americans, “would you like the option to purchase a faulty product?” I don’t think many would say, yes. Do we want a choice of buying a car where the engine doesn’t go? Or course not. That’s the 1890s, we’ve changed for the better and people are protected. So this vote is not about giving Americans a choice, it’s about allowing whether or not we should allow insurance companies to scam Americans with cut-rate health insurance.

I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of that vote. An abundance of public opinion polls show that health care is the number one issue to voters. My Republican friends have desperately tried to make it more unaffordable and harder to access. Meanwhile, the one significant legislative item passed by the Republican Congress this year – the tax bill – is underwater in the polls. It’s hard to make a tax cut unpopular, but this one is, because so much of it goes to the wealthy. And Republican leaders just rammed through one of the least popular Supreme Court justices in history.

 

In a few short weeks, the American people will head to the polls, where they can vote for another two years of Republican attempts to gut our health care system, or they can vote for Democratic candidates who will safeguard the protections now in place and work to make health care more affordable. And again, I see my friend from Wisconsin and I just want to thank her for her outstanding leadership on this issue.

 

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