Click here view video of Murphy’s remarks.
WASHINGTON – After the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of the Senate Republican health care repeal bill found that the bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 and cause premiums to skyrocket for middle class Americans nearing retirement, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on Senate Republicans to work with Democrats to construct a bipartisan bill that actually improves care and lowers costs. Murphy highlighted the devastating impact the Republican bill would have on Connecticut families and the American public.
“Almost every problem is made worse by this piece of legislation. The number of people without insurance goes up. Premiums, especially for the poor, the vulnerable, go up. There is nothing in this bill that addresses the cost of healthcare, of drugs, of devices, of procedures. There is nothing in this bill that talks about the quality of healthcare. Every problem – virtually every problem in the healthcare system gets worse,” said Murphy.
“So who gets hurt? Everybody, except for the folks who are getting tax cuts,” Murphy continued. “If [Republicans] put this monstrosity of a bill aside, [Democrats] will work with you to do something better. We both want the same things. It is just, in the end, putting aside this bill that makes all of those problems worse and, instead, sitting down together and deciding which levers we want to push to make things better."
Senate Republicans are expected to force a vote on their health care repeal bill this week without any hearings. The bill makes deep cuts to Medicaid and would force Americans to pay more for less care, all to give a giant tax cut to the very wealthy.
The full text of Murphy’s remarks is below:
Mr. President, I want to pick up where my colleague from Hawaii left off. There is a wonderful analogy that President Obama used after the 2016 election. As you could imagine, Democrats were pretty dejected the day after, and President Obama put it pretty simply. He said: Listen, just remember, these elections are “intramural scrimmages.” We put on temporary pinnies, Republicans and Democrats, but in the end, we all belong to the same team. We are all Americans.
Elections and legislative fights are temporary skirmishes before we recognize and realize our greater identity, which is that we have this commonality. Clearly, that is not what the American people see here. They think our primary identity is our partisan identity, and there is a lot of days in which we give them fodder for that belief.
It really is amazing, when it comes down to it, that when you think about the healthcare system, we do have the same goals in mind. There are actually lots of other issues on which we don't have the same goal. Republicans want to go left, and we want to go right. Republicans want to go right, and we want to go left. On healthcare, we actually all want to get to the same place: More people have access to health insurance, the cost of that insurance is less than it is today, and the quality of the care people get is better. It is funny because underneath that, it is just mechanics. It is not actually ideology. It is a decision as to which lever you press and which you don't.
I get that a lot of my Republican colleagues don't think we are sincere when we say, if you put this monstrosity of a bill aside, we will work with you to do something better. But it is sincere. We don't want to blow up Medicaid. We are not with you on that. We don't want to pass along big tax breaks, only going to the very wealthy. But we get that you want some more flexibility for states. We get that you want maybe an additional plan offered on the exchanges that doesn't have all the bells and whistles the existing plans do. But you get that we want stability in the exchanges. We want some certainty in the markets going forward.
There is an important conversation to be had here. Our hope is that, with this CBO score, maybe it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, that will cause our Republican colleagues to give up this nonsensical approach to healthcare reform and work with us.
I am going to repeat some of the ground that has already been covered here in the next few minutes, but I want to go over some of the highlights of this CBO report. Senator Schatz previewed this, but it is hard to get your head wrapped around what it means for 22 million people to lose insurance.
This is an old chart from the CBO score on the House bill that held that under their approach, 23 million people would lose insurance. I X'd that out. We now have 22 million people who would lose insurance under the Senate approach. That is the entire combined population of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia, and South Dakota. All that happened between the House bill and the Senate bill is that the people of Rhode Island got saved. I X'd out Rhode Island because Rhode Island has about 1 million people. About 1 million more people will have insurance under the Senate bill, but that is humanitarian catastrophe. That is a big deal, to have that many people lose insurance.
I know that is not what you set out to do. I know the Republicans didn't set out to do this, in part because I listened to Senator Cornyn come down and complain on the Senate floor relentlessly that the Affordable Care Act still left a whole bunch of people without insurance. In fact, he sent out a tweet today highlighting that the CBO does confirm that if current law continues, there will still be a lot of people without insurance. He left out the fact that the CBO says that under the Republican bill, 22 million more people will lose insurance, but that is a whole lot of people.
By the way, in the first year, CBO says 15 million people will lose insurance. Fifteen million people is the entire population of 13 States. That happens next year. Emergency rooms in this country cannot in 12 months absorb 15 million people losing insurance.
For all the folks who say that the ACA is in a death spiral, CBO says you are wrong. Very flatly, CBO says that if existing law remains, even without any improvements, the number of people without insurance effectively remains static. Yes, at the end, if you make no improvements, you will go from 26 million people not having insurance to 28 million people not having insurance.
CBO says – I had to change this because it used to be 51 million under the House bill. CBO now says 49 million people will lose insurance if you actually pass the bill the Senate is going to consider this week. The death spiral happens if we pass the Republican healthcare proposal.
[Pointing to chart of ACA projections] That is not a death spiral; that is stability. It is not an optimal result, 28 million people not having insurance, but it is far preferable to 49 million people not having insurance.
I understand that Republicans will quibble with CBO and say that maybe they didn't get it exactly right. Even if they were 50 percent wrong, that is still over 10 million people losing insurance. By the way, just for good measure, CBO was right in their estimates of the percentage of Americans who would have insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Inside of their estimate – the details worked out differently – but they said that by 2016, 89 percent of Americans would have health insurance, up from 83 percent prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Guess how many people have health insurance today: 89 percent of Americans, 89 to 90 percent of Americans.
We all agree that premiums should go down. If we are going to pass something, the result should be that premiums go down. Here is what CBO says: Premiums go up and not by a little bit. They go up by 20 percent in the first year. Admittedly, I am painting a partial picture here. That is 2018. After that, CBO says for certain populations in this country, premiums will go down, but it is largely for the young, the healthy, and the wealthy.
CBO says that you will have massive premium increases for older Americans. For lower income Americans who are in that age bracket of 50 to 64, premium increases will go up by at least two times, up to four times.
CBO also says that if you are lower income, you are not going to buy insurance because you can't afford it. It doesn't even matter what your premiums are because they will be so high, you can't afford them. Premiums go up for everybody off the bat--and for lots of vulnerable people after that.
So who gets hurt? Everybody, except for the folks who are getting tax cuts. If you are an insurance company, a drug company, or you are super rich--maybe that is an unfair term--people making $200,000 or more a year get tax cuts, but most of the tax cuts go to the super rich. People making over $1 million a year will do fine. If you are an insurance company, a drug company, or you are very wealthy, you get a great deal out of this piece of legislation, but pretty much everybody else gets very badly hurt.
Today, one of our Republican colleagues said this to a reporter – I won't give you a name. One of our Republican Senate colleagues, when he was asked about the Republican healthcare proposal, said: “I am not sure what it does. I just know it's better than ObamaCare.” That is about as perfect an encapsulation of the Republican positioning on this bill as I can imagine, because if you did know what it did – if my Republican colleagues did get deep into the CBO report, it doesn't solve a single problem in the American healthcare system. There are big problems, such as 26 million people still don't have insurance. This bill makes it worse.
People are paying too much for insurance, especially those folks who are making middle incomes who are just outside of qualifying for the Medicaid subsidies. This bill makes it worse. Almost every problem is made worse by this piece of legislation. I guess that is sort of what a lot of Americans wonder – if our Republican colleagues do know what is in this bill. “I’m not sure what it does. I just know that it's better than ObamaCare.”
This solves one problem for Republicans. It is a political problem. Republicans have said for the last 8 years that they are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act. My Republican friends promised it in every corner of this country, at every opportunity they had, and this does solve that political problem. If you pass this bill, you can successfully claim that you have repealed the Affordable Care Act, but that is the only problem it solves. It makes almost every other problem in this system worse.
The number of people without insurance goes up. Premiums, especially for the poor, the vulnerable, go up. There is nothing in this bill that addresses the cost of healthcare, of drugs, of devices, of procedures. There is nothing in this bill that talks about the quality of healthcare. Every problem – virtually every problem in the healthcare system gets worse.
I will just end by reiterating the offer that Senator Schatz made. I think you have a lot of people of very good will who want to work with Republicans and are sincere about it. I will be part of whatever group gets put together if this bill falls apart this week.
I held an emergency hearing in New Haven, Connecticut on Monday, just to try to explain to people what was in the Republican Senate proposal and to get people's feedback. It was hard to sit through. It was two and a half hours of some really scared folks.
I will be honest with the Presiding Officer. Most of the people who came had disabled kids. Most of the people who came had disabled kids who were on or relied on Medicaid, and they were just scared to death about what was going to happen to their children. But they also talked about the problems that still exist in the healthcare system – the fact that drugs are too expensive. Many of them pay too much for healthcare. They wanted those problems solved, and they wanted us to work with Republicans on it.
Senator Schatz was right. If we did it together, we would own it together. It would stop being a political football. While that would be a secondary benefit to the actual good that would come from a bipartisan piece of legislation that actually addresses the issues in the underlying healthcare system, it would be a pretty remarkable good that is possible because we have the same goals in mind. We both want the same things. It is just, in the end, putting aside this bill that makes all of those problems worse and, instead, sitting down together and deciding which levers we want to push to make things better.
I yield the floor.