June 22, 2017

Senator Warren Delivers Remarks on the Republican Health Care Bill

Video available here

Washington, DC - In a floor speech on Thursday afternoon, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the newly-released Republican health bill. The text of her remarks is below, and a video of her speech is available here.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
June 22, 2017

Today, we finally got a look at the monstrosity of a bill that Republicans have been hiding behind closed doors for weeks. Yes, it is finally clear how the Republicans were spending their time, locked in those back rooms.

Now we know the truth - Senate Republicans weren't making the House bill better. Nope, not one bit. Instead, they were sitting around a conference room table, dreaming up even meaner ways to kick dirt in the face of the American people and take away their health insurance.

Remember - the Senate Republicans worked for weeks on this new bill. They worked really, really hard on it. And it's pretty clear now exactly who they were working for. This bill has one flashing neon sign after another telling us who the Republican Party cares about - and it is not American families.

The Senate bill is crammed full with just as many tax cuts as the House bill. Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, tax cuts for wealthy investors, tax cuts for giant companies. But all those tax cuts don't come cheap. They start to add up after a while. So Senate Republicans had to make a choice. How to pay for all these juicy tax cuts for their rich buddies?

I'll tell you how: blood money. Senate Republicans wrung some extra dollars out of kicking people off tax credits that help them afford health insurance. They raked in extra cash by letting states drop even more protections and benefits, like maternity care or prescription drug coverage or mental health treatment.

And then they got to the real piggy bank: Medicaid. And here they just went wild. Senate Republicans went after Medicaid with even deeper cuts than the House version. The Medicaid expansion? Gone - ripped up and flushed down the toilet. And the rest of the Medicaid program? For Senate Republicans, it wasn't enough that the House bill was going to toss grandparents out of nursing homes or slash funding for people with disabilities or pull the plug on health care for babies born too soon. No. Senate Republicans wanted to go bigger.

The Republican bill claims to protect kids with disabilities by leaving them out of the calculations that decide how big the Medicaid cuts will be in each state. Now I don't know if the Republicans were expecting a round of applause for pitting kids with breathing tubes against vulnerable seniors or someone needing treatment for addiction, but I do know this so-called exemption won't do a thing to help these kids. The Republican cuts still slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, leaving states with no choice - no choice - but to cut services that kids with disabilities desperately need.  

Medicaid is the program in this country that provides health insurance to one in five Americans. To 30 million kids.  To nearly two out of every three people in a nursing home.  These cuts are blood money. People will die. Let's be very clear: Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives.

Just think about what would happen here if the Republican bill becomes law next week.

Picture a woman in her eighties who lives at home. She's shaky on her feet. She needs help preparing her meals or taking a bath, but her only income is her monthly Social Security check. Right now, Medicaid helps pay for home and community based services so she can stay in her home. Someone who comes by to help for a few hours a week.  And because of that help, she gets to stay home, to live independently.  But the Republicans are determined to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, so their health care plan cuts Medicaid money that helps millions of seniors stay in their homes.

Without these services, this elderly woman can't live alone.  So where does she turn?  The usual answer would be a nursing home. But wait - Medicaid pays for most of the nursing home care in this country! But the Republicans are determined to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, so they have cut Medicaid funding so much so that there is no help for this woman at home AND there is no nursing home bed for her either.

So what does she do? Well, she stays home without help. She can't climb the stairs any more. Her world shrinks. Eventually she falls and has to go to the hospital. The care is expensive, and she is miserable.

Finally, let's say the hospital gets her back on her feet, but there's nowhere for her to go when it's time to be discharged.  So she heads back home to wait for the next fall, maybe the one that may be fatal?

In their determination to cut taxes for the rich, is this what Republicans have planned for frail seniors in our country? Wait until they're all used up and then leave them out on the curb for the next trash pickup?  

And it isn't just seniors who will be hit hard.  How about a premature baby born with lung defects? His parents both have full-time jobs, but no matter how hard they work, no matter how many hours they put in, they will never be able to pay for the millions of dollars in surgeries, equipment, medicine, therapy that their child needs. Right now, Medicaid makes sure that kids with complex medical needs have coverage for feeding tubes and medication and surgery and physical therapy.

But Senate Republicans were so determined to offer tax breaks for the rich, that they have taken away this baby's Medicaid. So what happens next? Maybe the parents try their best, but they just can't pay. Maybe they try a Kickstarter campaign, but it's not going to bring in enough to cover the medical bills. So they take out a second mortgage. Then they go bankrupt and lose their home. Is that the Republican plan for this family? Go live in a homeless shelter with your little baby whose only crime was to be born 14 weeks too soon?

Senate Republicans can wave their hands and say that everyone will be fine, but it is time for the rest of us to take a long, hard look at exactly what would happen to the people who have to live with the Republicans' reckless cuts.

Senate Republicans know exactly what they are doing with this health care bill. Their values are on full display. If they want to trade the health insurance of millions of Americans for tax cuts for the rich, they'd better be ready for a fight. Because now that this shameful bill is out in the open, that's exactly what they're going to get.