Schumer Floor Remarks on the Trumpcare CBO Score and Memorial Day

May 25, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the recently released  Congressional Budget Office scoring on Trumpcare and honoring the U.S. Armed Services ahead of Memorial Day. Below are his remarks:

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office, led by a director who was hand-picked by current HHS Secretary Tom Price – Donald Trump’s appointee – released its analysis of the House Republican healthcare bill, Trumpcare.

The report makes clear that Trumpcare would be a cancer on the American health care system – causing costs to skyrocket, making coverage unaffordable for many seniors and those with preexisting conditions, all the while leaving 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance. Now when people hear this they say, why would the Republicans want to do it? That just seems mean-spirited. Well, I’ll tell you why – because their number one goal is to give a tax break for the wealthiest of Americans, people making above $250,000. They pay an additional charge to help everyone else with health care on their unearned income, not on what they do when they’re working on but on stocks and bonds and investments. And the number one goal of our colleagues across the aisle, sadly, is to help those very rich people get even richer. Now, to do that, they got to take away people’s health care. To get the money for those tax breaks, they take away people’s health care.

So the bottom line is very simple: unless you’re a healthy millionaire, Trumpcare is a nightmare. And I think that’s why our Republican colleagues are having such trouble putting together their own bill, because as Senator Durbin has noted, they’ve excluded us from their negotiations.

Well the CBO report ought to be the final nail in the coffin of the Republican effort to sabotage our health care system. Republicans in Washington and the President should read the report cover to cover, throw their bill in the trash can, and begin working with Democrats on a real plan to lower the costs and improve care.

There is a lot to unpack in this report, came out late yesterday, so I want to focus on a couple of provisions this morning.

First, on health insurance costs.

The CBO report makes clear that premiums under this bill are heading up in the next several years. Consumers would see their premiums increase by 20% for next year’s plans.

Now, Republicans will crow about the premiums going down in the outer years, years away, but the decrease in premiums only occurs for one reason: the quality of insurance will plummet. If you have a bare-bones plan that hardly helps you where you have to pay huge deductibles, huge co-payments, huge premiums, and it covers next to nothing – of course the costs will eventually go down. What good is that? Why even talk about that kind of health care? People don’t need it and don’t want it. Cheaper insurance isn’t going to help anyone if it doesn’t actually lead to the health care people need.

Listen to this – older Americans, everyone in America 50 to 64, Trumpcare is going to force you to pinch your pennies just to be able to afford health insurance. The CBO report says that some seniors could see their premiums go up by a whopping 800% under this bill.

In one of the newspapers articles I saw, I think the senior citizens was in his early 60s, they were making about $25,000 or $30,000 a year – not unusual for a senior of that age – and their premiums went up from $1,700 to $13,000. Are you going to vote for that, my friends? Telling these people who’ve worked hard all their lives so that they have to pay a lot more and a lot of that money is going to wealthy people for a tax cut?

What about out-of-pocket expenses? By the way, out of pocket expenses really bother people. How many of us have heard over and over again, I have health care, when I go to the doctor they said, you first have to lay out $5,000. How many of us have heard that? Everybody? The Republican bill makes it worse. According to the CBO report, out-of-pocket costs could balloon for vital services in states where they decline to cover essential health benefits. Americans could be paying thousands of dollars more every year if they need maternity care, or programs that treat substance abuse, or mental health services.

Listen to this one – according to the report, in states that elected not to include maternity care – which every state could elect to do under the Republican bill, and many will – insurers would most likely sell maternity benefits as an “add-on,” costing more than $1,000 a month, and as much as $17,000 more in total.

Under Trumpcare, women may well have to pay more – much more -- for insurance just because they’re a woman. Because of pregnancy.

So costs go up, up, up. And if, God forbid, this bill becomes law and costs go up, any citizen of this country should go to their Senators who vote for this and say, what the heck did you do? You made it worse.

Now, uncertainty in the markets, second issue.

The CBO report confirms that the Republicans attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Trump Administration’s refusal to guarantee to continue making “cost-sharing payments” is causing the instability in the market.

This is the report put out by the Republican-appointed head of CBO – this is not some Democratic propaganda-type document. These are just the facts, ma’am, as Mr. Friday said. Here’s what the report says “substantial uncertainty about enforcement of the individual mandate and about future payments of the cost-sharing subsidies” have led insurers to withdraw from the current marketplace.

AHIP – the nation’s largest trade group of insurers, completely nonpartisan – they said the same thing. They said the uncertainty about the cost-sharing payments was “the single most destabilizing factor in the individual market.” Why, if our colleagues want more people to stay in the market and are complaining that people are leaving the market, don’t we come together – hopefully with the President, who’s got this, he could do this on his own – and say, we’re going to make this cost-sharing payment? We all know insurers want certainty in the future or they pull out. That’s what the insurance business is all about. And yet, grudgingly, one little step at a time, they don’t take away the cost-sharing because they know the damage it would do, as does President Trump. But they are afraid to make it permanent. And that causes problems.

So there is only one word for this: sabotage. If our Republican friends continue to allow the president to play coy about these cost-sharing payments as a political threat -- if we don’t make cost-sharing permanent -- the system will deteriorate. And again, it will be on the President’s back and our colleague’s back. I hate to say that, but those are the facts.

Finally, pre-existing conditions.

The CBO report states, and this is a direct quote: “People who are less healthy would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all.” Let me repeat the last part, written by an appointee of our Republican head of HHS: “if they could purchase it at all.”

Think about that for a minute. Under Trumpcare, if you have a preexisting condition, if you are sick, your health insurance costs could go up so high that you can’t even afford it at all. How many of us, before the new health care law passed under President Obama, how many of us heard, my daughter has cancer but the health insurance company won’t cover me or I got kicked off and I have to watch her suffer because I can’t afford the payments. Going back to those days under this bill, unfortunately. This report ought to be the final nail in the coffin of the Republican effort to sabotage our health care system.

It’ll make much more certain that sick people are priced out by insurance companies, the most vulnerable among us are left high and dry when they need care most, when there is an illness in the family – is that the sort of health care system our colleagues envision for our country? When you’re sick when one of your family members is sick, that’s when they’re allowed to give you health care? What the heck do you have health care for?

So, in conclusion Mr. President, the nonpartisan scorekeepers have spoken loudly and clearly: Trumpcare means higher costs and less care for the American people, for the average American.

Let’s not lose sight of what’s at stake here -- the health and wellbeing of the American people is on the line. There are life-and-death consequences for so many millions of people. They are relying on us to get this right.

So for the good of the country, President Trump and Republicans should abandon Trumpcare, stop sabotaging our healthcare system, and work with Democrats – we are waiting – to fix our health care system, instead of pulling the plug on it.

Finally, one more note Mr. President, before the Memorial Day weekend, I want to take a moment to express my deep and abiding gratitude for the men and women in the armed services who gave their last full measure of devotion in defense of our nation and our liberty.

In big cities and small towns throughout America, we will honor our fallen veterans and pay tribute to them. We’ll give a hug to the Gold Star Moms, who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the blessings of freedom. Mr. President, since the founding of this country, since the farmers on Bunker Hill put down their plows and took up muskets, Americans have been willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for our great way of life. Our freedom. May we never forget them.