WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), spoke on the Senate floor to hold Republicans accountable on their last-ditch TrumpCare bill, Graham-Cassidy, and highlight the damaging impact it would have in New Mexico.
Below are Senator Heinrich's remarks as prepared for delivery:
After the rushed and secretive effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed earlier this year, I had hoped that we could finally move forward in a bipartisan fashion to find real solutions to our nation’s remaining health care challenges.
I still believe that most of us here in the Senate—including Senators Alexander and Murray in the HELP Committee— are willing to work across party lines to find consensus on pragmatic improvements.
That is why I am so appalled that President Trump and Republican Leadership are reviving a last ditch effort to pass a disastrous bill that would upend our health care system and take away insurance coverage from millions of Americans.
Worse yet and even harder to believe, the bill that Republican Leadership is rushing to the floor for a vote this week is actually worse than any previous versions of this legislation.
The so-called Graham-Cassidy bill they are hoping to vote on would mean higher premiums for worse coverage and millions of Americans losing their health insurance.
It will permanently gut Medicaid.
And, despite promises to the contrary that Republicans have long made, it would end key protections for people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
In short, it would throw our entire health care system into chaos.
That is just awful policy any way you look at it.
How did we get here?
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.
The trouble is that their opposition to the ACA has always been more about bumper sticker politics than it ever was about actual policy or plans to do better for the American people.
The long-lasting effort on display throughout this year 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 in July, its contents proved too harmful for passage even in their own caucus.
Now they are hoping for one more last-ditch vote before the end of September to pass something, anything to follow through on their reckless mission.
One consequence of this legislation that is so important to my home state of New Mexico is that if we pass this bill, it will spell the end to any progress we have made in fighting our nation’s opioid and heroin epidemic.
It is nothing short of hypocrisy for President Trump and Republicans to say that they are taking this major public health crisis seriously when they are supporting this bill.
Ironically, the bill before us actually does less to combat opioids than the bill that was too draconian and damaging to pass last time.
But it is not just the behavioral health system and opioid treatment that will be upended if we dismantle the Medicaid program.
Medicaid pays for seniors in nursing homes, for school nurses who care for our children, and for Americans with disabilities.
And Medicaid has been a financial lifeline for hospitals and health clinics in rural communities.
I know this because I have heard it directly from our rural health providers in New Mexico.
If we pass these drastic cuts to Medicaid, some of our rural health providers in New Mexico may very well have to close up shop.
This is not a partisan assessment.
This is what will happen according to many experts and people in the health care field who have nothing political at stake in this debate.
The Medicaid directors for all 50 states and Republican and Democratic governors alike have come out against this bill.
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 the New Mexico families and the communities that I represent.
If we can halt this mad rush, we could all—Democrats and Republicans—get to work on the problems with health care that we all agree need attention.
And there is work to be done—no doubt about it.
There is still time to do what is right for the American families who elected us to work together and make their lives better.
The Graham-Cassidy bill simply doesn’t do that.
There is still time to change course, to go through regular order, to hold hearings, and to build a consensus on fixes and improvements to the health care system.
As Senator McCain told all of us earlier this year:
“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 is a better way forward.
I’m confident that most of us would welcome a bipartisan, regular order approach.
We need to remember that there are real people’s lives that hang in the balance in this debate.
I have heard from so many New Mexicans about what health coverage means to them and their families.
I don’t know about you, but that’s whose interests I am looking out for.
Real, bipartisan solutions to challenges in our health care system are within reach if President Trump and Republican Leadership would just be willing to let us work together to find them.