Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515
Wyden: We Can't Go Back to When Health Care Was for the Healthy and Wealthy
As Prepared for Delivery
Mr. President, this fall there are a lot of American families who’d rather be prepping for the holidays than worrying about their health care, but the Trump administration is refusing to let them off the hook.
Let me tell you about a youngster in Oregon named Jasper. Jasper is three years old, full of energy and love, and a big, big fan of playtime with cars, trains and trucks. But he was born with serious medical issues. Cystic fibrosis, cardiac and pancreatic problems, hearing loss. He requires a variety of treatments multiple times a day. It’s hard on his family. It’s hard on him. The costs are astronomical.
His family is fortunate to have health insurance through a parent’s employer. But they know how absolutely vital it is to have the protection of the Affordable Care Act.
At the heart of the ACA are bedrock, ironclad protections for people like them.
No discrimination by insurance companies against preexisting conditions. No annual or lifetime limits on coverage. No coverage denials that drag people into bureaucratic nightmares. Young people covered on their parents’ plans until age 26. And much more.
Those protections save people’s lives and make health care affordable for millions of Americans. But with the support of Republicans in Congress, the Trump administration wants to eliminate those protections. To throw them out the window.
My colleagues on the other side are standing by and doing nothing while the administration and Republican-led states are maneuvering in the courts to get the entire Affordable Care Act wiped out.
It’s the so-called “Texas” case, an absurd lawsuit based on an absurd argument that wouldn’t pass the smell test in middle-school mock trial. Somehow, right-wing ideologue judges have kept it alive. Because this lawsuit keeps hanging around, tens of millions of Americans might lose their health care with hardly any warning and no fallback options to protect them.
Republicans claim they have “fix-it” bills to pass in the event of the ACA’s demise. But they read like they were written by the lawyers and the lobbyists on the payroll of the big insurance companies.
If insurance companies can hike up the cost of treating a preexisting condition so high that it becomes unaffordable, that’s no different than being denied coverage in the first place.
And while the Texas case moves forward, the Trump administration is continuing to allow junk insurance scam artists to defraud Americans into buying worthless plans that don’t cover the health care they actually need. It’s federally funded fraud, plain and simple, and it has the support of Donald Trump and Republicans here in Congress.
It’s now the middle of the open enrollment period for health insurance on healthcare.gov. The Trump administration’s support for junk plans has created a whole new burden for families across the country who are shopping for insurance. They used to be able to trust that junk plans were banned from the marketplace. Now they’ve got to wade through a whole lot of manipulative marketing and scam lingo to separate the junk plans from the real thing. What’s worse, the Trump administration is actually redirecting people looking for coverage from the healthcare.gov website to third-party brokers who can sell unsuspecting customers junk plans. It’s an absolute shame that the Trump administration has heaped that burden onto people, and that Republicans are unwilling to do anything about it.
But since day one of this administration, with the help of Republicans in Congress, it’s been one attempt after another to take health care away from millions and millions of Americans. People like three-year-old Jasper and his family in Oregon.
On a fundamental level, this is about whether the U.S. will go back to the bad old days when health care worked only for the healthy and the wealthy. That’s where Donald Trump wants to return to. That’s where Republicans in Congress want to return to.
They’ve made that clear by working to eliminate preexisting condition protections in Congress and the courts. By allowing junk plans. By seeking to slash our health programs.
But Democrats are going to keep on fighting to protect people like Jasper and his family. And Democrats will keep on fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act.