March 08, 2017

On Senate Floor, Gillibrand Urges Colleagues To Oppose House Bill To Dismantle The Affordable Care Act

Gillibrand: Access to health care is a human right, and now that millions more Americans finally have it, it would be wrong of us to take it away from them…. We must reject this bill.

 

***WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Speech on the Senate Floor HERE***

 

Washington, DC U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke on the Senate floor this morning to urge her colleagues to oppose the new House bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise to oppose the American Health Care Act.

 

This bill would destroy the Affordable Care Act – even though the Affordable Care Act has given more Americans access to quality, affordable health care than ever before in our history.

 

It would force middle-class families to pay more money for less care.

 

It would leave more people uninsured – by a lot.

 

It would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans with what is essentially an age tax – as if our parents and our grandparents don’t already pay the insurance companies enough for their care.

 

It would cause many working families to lose coverage from their employers, because under this new bill, companies would no longer have to provide their workers with health care. And without a mandate to do so, we know that many of them won’t.

 

It would drastically cut Medicaid funding, which would cripple state budgets, and would leave many seniors in nursing homes and lower-income New Yorkers stuck without a way to pay for the medical care they need to survive.

 

This bill would also take away health care from millions of women – including lifesaving health care services like breast exams and pap smears.

 

And on top of all of this, as if to add insult to injury, this so-called health care bill would give a tax break to health insurance CEOs who make more than half-a-million dollars a year.

 

Mr. President, how is any of this – any of it – going to make the people in my state healthier?

 

I am struggling to understand why, amid all of the problems we are supposed to solve here in this chamber – why this Congress seems to have such a singular fixation on taking away access to health care from the most vulnerable people.

 

I continue to be amazed by how little empathy there seems to be in this chamber for the millions of women, and older Americans, and lower-income Americans, who don’t have the incredible resources that we have here in Congress, and desperately need all of the federal programs that this bill would cut.

 

This legislation is completely out of touch with the actual needs of the people in my state.

 

It is driven by ideology – as if it is somehow the wrong thing to do if we want to help more people in our states live healthy and fulfilling lives.

 

If someone is diagnosed with cancer, and the only way they can afford to see an oncologist and have surgery is through an Affordable Care Act health plan.

 

Do you think they would care that their insurance coverage was made possible by Obamacare?

 

If your parent or your grandparent suffers from dementia, and the only way they can afford the constant care and medical attention they need is if they sign up for Medicaid.

 

Do you think your family would care that their insurance coverage was made possible by a federal program?

 

No, I think families would be a bit more concerned about whether or not that insurance plan will actually pay for their surgery, and pay for their medicines, and treat their illnesses, and heal them back to full strength.

 

That’s what the Affordable Care Act has done for so many people in our states – because access to health care is a human right, and now that millions more Americans finally have it, it would be wrong of us to take it away from them.

 

So I urge all of my colleagues in this chamber to think about the women who live in their states, think about the poor, think about the older Americans in nursing homes.

 

This bill would hurt them. It would make their lives harder, not easier.

We must reject this bill. I urge all of my colleagues to vote against it.

 

I yield the floor.