July 11,2017

Press Contact:

Contact: Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on the Devastating Consequences of Trumpcare

As Prepared for Delivery

I’ve just come off eight open to all town hall meetings in my home state of Oregon home over the Fourth of July recess. Five in counties won by Donald Trump. Three were in counties won by Hillary Clinton. And the single, unifying issue that dominated each one is that Trumpcare is a loser.

And across the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, told me that Congress ought to set this Trumpcare bill aside. And after it’s dropped, Democrats and Republicans ought to get together, and look for the common ground by showing some common sense.

During those eight town hall meetings over the past week, people asked me questions like, when is this flawed Trumpcare bill finally coming to a vote? How are my frail parents supposed to get by if this bill passes and they lose coverage? How will my family support our elderly parents if they can’t count on Medicaid for long-term care?

And it was clear to me that no matter the politics of the audience, there’s a basic fact about Trumpcare that everybody understands.

I told the people in those community centers and auditoriums, I’m the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, which handles taxes and health care, and I’ve worked on both these issues for a long time. This is a tax cut for special interests masquerading as health policy.

When people heard that, whether it was in Trump counties or in Clinton counties, everybody started nodding. So the secret’s out -- this is not a plan to fix anybody’s health care problems or bring down costs. It’s a massive handout to special interests.

But now that the Senate is back in session, the public is reading about the newest proposal in the works -- the hail-mary pass from Senator Cruz and Republican leaders to try to put together 50 votes for their version of Trumpcare.

In my view, this new proposal is a prescription for mayhem in the insurance markets and misery among people dealing with illnesses. Forget all the talk about bringing costs down, this plan would send health expenses into the stratosphere.

This plan tells insurance companies, you’re off the hook for basic consumer protections. You get to bring back annual and lifetime caps on coverage. And those caps would hit people who get their health care through their employer as well as those who buy it for themselves in the individual market. You can forget about essential health benefits. You get to flood the market with bargain-basement insurance plans as long as you offer one comprehensive option -- and you get to price that plan through the roof.

Under this new proposal, it will be a tale of two health systems. The young and healthy will opt for the bare-bones insurance plans that don’t cover much of anything. But there are millions of people in this country who cannot get by with skimpy insurance that covers nothing but stitches and aromatherapy.

They’re people who’ve had a cancer scare or suffer from diabetes. They’re people who get hurt on the ski slopes or slip off a ladder. The only coverage that works for them will come with an astronomical price-tag. Skimpy coverage for them is a bad prescription.

So if you get sick or injured, you better forget about paying for your kid’s tuition. You better forget about saving for retirement. You better forget about that new car or that vacation. Because your health care costs are going through the roof.

This new proposal is a return to the dark days when health care in America was reserved for the healthy and the wealthy.

Colleagues, I’ll wrap up with this. Everybody across the country has a loved one with a pre-existing condition. Everybody has a friend who was hurt in an accident. Everybody’s seen the inside of a hospital room at one point or another. So everybody has something at stake in this debate.

Recess is over, but the health care debate is not. So it is absolutely vital that people across the country keep up the pressure. Keep calling, keep tweeting, keep writing and telling Senators your stories. That’s the only way to stop this plan in its tracks.