Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515
Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on Republican War Against Pre-Existing Condition Coverage
As Prepared for Delivery
M. President, as people in Oregon and across the country attended 4th of July picnics and parades, I’m not sure complicated health care policy debates were a central topic of conversation.
That’s probably the way the Trump administration wanted it.
Today, lawyers representing the Trump administration and Republican governors are attempting to have the Affordable Care Act ripped up and thrown out by a federal court. They failed to get it done in Congress, so now they’re trying to do it in the courts.
This case is happening in the Fifth Circuit Court down in Louisiana, and it is not some theoretical exercise. This is an immediate threat to the health care of millions and millions of Americans.
Let’s come right out and say it. Eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions is the official position of the Republican Party.
That’s the centerpiece of what this court case is attacking. The ironclad, airtight guarantee at the heart of the Affordable Care Act that insurance companies cannot discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. Republicans want it eliminated.
And the fact is, this attack on Americans’ health care goes way beyond pre-existing conditions. What about prescription drug costs? Prescription drugs are outrageously expensive today, and the problem is only getting worse under the Trump administration. Prices are up more than 10 percent just in the past six months. People are being forced to choose between paying for their medications and putting food on the table. People are self-rationing because their prescriptions are too expensive. If this lawsuit succeeds, prescription drug costs are going to get even higher.
If the ACA is thrown out, that’s the end of the requirement that health insurance has to cover prescription drugs. Patients will be forced into junk insurance plans that don’t cover the care they actually need. Millions of people of limited means would be kicked off their Medicaid coverage. Millions of seniors would face higher drug costs.
Bottom line, this is a forced march back to the days when health care worked only for the healthy and the wealthy.
The biggest winners -- if the lawsuit succeeds -- will be the giant insurance companies and drug manufacturers. It gives them all the power they need to trample over American families once again.
And here’s the kicker -- there is no replacement plan if the ACA is wiped out! The president still claims he’s got a big, beautiful health care plan, and it always seems to be a week or two away from the grand unveiling.
Wrong. There is no backup plan. It’s just a political crusade that makes winners of powerful corporations and losers of working Americans.
Democrats in Congress have proposals ready to go that take a better approach and protect people’s health care. Blocking Trump’s lawyers from using taxpayer dollars to destroy the ACA. Banning junk insurance. Standing in support of pre-existing conditions.
That’s what the Senate ought to be working on so that the Trump administration can’t bring on a health care nightmare for millions and millions of Americans.