Washington D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) took to the Senate floor to give back-to-back speeches decrying the latest effort by Republicans and President Trump to try to cancel insurance on hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans and as many as 32 million Americans by repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
Below are Senator Heinrich's remarks as prepared for delivery:
For over seven years, Republicans in Washington have cheered shortcomings in our health care system and blamed the Affordable Care Act for every problem under the premise that they would do better if put in charge.
Repealing the law made for great bumper stickers and campaign promises.
But the trouble is that their opposition to the ACA has always been more about politics than it ever was about actual policy or plans to do better for the American people.
The shockingly rushed and secretive effort on display this week in the Senate is only further evidence that President Trump and Republicans in Congress don’t have any real solutions to improve our nation’s health care system.
After months of negotiations behind closed doors, when Senate Republicans released their secret TrumpCare bill, its contents proved too harmful for passage even just among themselves.
Now, stuck without a path forward, their latest idea is to pass a small backroom deal before sundown today – which nobody has seen yet – to go to conference with the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives.
While we still don’t know what it is we’ll be voting on, we know that even the so-called “skinny repeal” bill would mean higher premiums and millions of Americans losing their health coverage.
Not to mention deep cuts that would dismantle the Medicaid program as it currently exists.
And throw millions of Americans off of their health coverage and put our entire health care system into chaos.
All to give a massive tax break to the wealthiest among us.
That is just awful policy any way you look at it.
Since January, I have heard from literally thousands of New Mexicans who have told me how important health care coverage is to them and their families.
What answers do President Trump and Republicans in Congress have for the grandmother in Santa Fe who wonders where she will go when her nursing home closes because of Medicaid cuts?
Or the woman in Albuquerque who wrote to me about how scared she is about losing access to mental health care for her depression and anxiety.
What will they tell the single mother in Rio Rancho who relies on Medicaid to cover her children’s medical costs?
Or the young man in Espanola who needs treatment to get clean from opioid addiction?
These New Mexicans—and millions of other Americans—will be harmed if this bill becomes law.
Look, I’m not outraged about all of this because I’m a Democrat or because of what I think about President Trump.
I’m outraged about this bill because of what it will do to New Mexico families and communities.
I will do everything I can to oppose this appalling legislation and fight to keep quality health care accessible and affordable for all New Mexicans.
If we can halt this mad rush, we could all—Democrats and Republicans—get to work on the problems with health care that we agree need fixing.
And there is work to be done—no doubt about it.
As Senator McCain told all of us yesterday:
“We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.”
There has to be a better way forward.
Republicans need to stop playing Russian Roulette with our health care system.
These are real people’s lives that hang in the balance in this debate.
Real, bipartisan solutions to challenges in our health care system are within reach if Republicans would just be willing to work for them.