WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Wednesday delivered remarks on the U.S. Senate floor to ask his Republican colleagues whether they support Texas v. United States, a partisan lawsuit to gut the entire Affordable Care Act, and what their plan is if the lawsuit prevails. During his remarks, Murphy highlighted stories from constituents in Connecticut who have shared their health care stories with him, and what would happen if they lost their health care as a result of this lawsuit.
“[President Trump and Republicans] are now going to the courts to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Right now weaving its three way through the court system is a case called Texas v. United States. The goal of it, if it's successful, is to wipe out the entirety of the Affordable Care Act overnight,” said Murphy. “There is just a simple question right now for my colleagues: Do you support Texas v. United States? Do you support the lawsuit that would wipe out the entirety of the Affordable Care Act overnight and replace it with nothing?"
“Let me just be honest with you. Given how fractious the debate is here about everything, but in particular about health care, there is no way that the United States Congress and this dysfunctional White House can reassemble all of the protections in the Affordable Care Act if the courts wipe them out. That is just not realistic,” Murphy continued.
The full text of Murphy’s remarks is below:
“Thank you very much, Madam President. Let me congratulate all of those responsible for the passage of this long overdue legislation. Let me thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who made this happen. But first and foremost, all of the advocates all over the country, but primarily in and around the Northeast. There were hundreds upon hundreds of individuals who rushed to that scene from my state of Connecticut, many of them dealing with potentially terminal diseases as a result of that action. And I am glad that we have stepped up and in a bipartisan way, once again, done the right thing.
“Madam President, I am on the floor to continue this conversation about health care. And I wish I had as good news as comes with the passage of this legislation, which is going to extend the guarantee of health care to all sorts of heroes in and around New York City, at the very same time, we are dealing with a potential calamity for millions of other Americans who also have serious conditions who are dealing with diagnoses like cancer.
“Today, if you have a pre-existing condition, you know you're going to be able to get insured for that pre-existing condition. If you're the parent of a child who has a serious illness, you don't have to worry about being denied care for your son or daughter because of that diagnosis. That's because we have the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act has been on the books now for going on a decade. And it says no matter how sick you are, no insurance company can deny you care. And that has made a world of difference for millions upon millions of Americans who have these pre-existing conditions.
“The potential calamity comes in a court case that has been filed by Republican attorneys general which is supported by the President and by Republicans in this Congress that would try to use the court system to do what the Congress would not: overturn the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. Congress wouldn't do that. We debated it. We voted down measures to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Why? Because Americans rose up all across this country and said, ‘we want you to fix what continues to be broken with the health care system, not tear down my coverage, not remove me from the rolls of those that are insured.
“Remember, all across this country, you got over 20 million people who have insurance just because of the Affordable Care Act, either because of the tax credits that we give people to afford private insurance, or the 12 million people who got Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act. Never mind all the folks who just buy private insurance on their own but can finally afford it because we don't discriminate against you if you're poor. People didn't want that all to be taken away from them. So they rose up all across this country and Congress listened. By the skin of our teeth we voted down legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. So because opponents of the Affordable Care Act, and particularly this President, Republicans who don't like it couldn't get the job done in the people's branch. They are now going to the courts to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Right now weaving its way through the court system is a case called Texas v. United States and, I won't go into the complicated legal argument, the goal of it, if it's successful, is to wipe out the entirety of the Affordable Care Act overnight. It has been successful at the district court level, it was just argued before the appellate court level and by the account of witnesses who are there, the arguments didn't go too well, for those of us who think the Affordable Care Act should stick around. And, you know, there is just a simple question right now for my colleagues: Do you support Texas v. United States? Do you support the lawsuit that would wipe out the entirety of the Affordable Care Act overnight and replace it with nothing?
“Now I put Republicans on here because I actually know what the answer is from the Democratic side of the aisle, every single Democrat in the Senate opposes this lawsuit, not because every single Democrat thinks that you shouldn't change anything about the health care system, it’s because we don't think it's a real good idea to kick 20 million people off of insurance, jack up rates for people with pre-existing conditions and have nothing to replace it. Nothing. That's what would happen if Texas v. United States is successful. Petitioners are asking for the whole act to be thrown out, and nothing to replace it. That would be a humanitarian catastrophe in this country. If 20 million people all of a sudden woke up and found they didn't have insurance coverage any longer. If insurance, were once again able to charge that family with a child cancer diagnosis two times, three times, four times as much.
“So the question is for Republicans: do you support this lawsuit? And I think we need to get some answers. I think we need to get some answers. Some of my colleagues are on record saying they hope it fails. Others are on record saying they hope it succeeds. But I don't think this body can just box its eyes and ears to the reality of what would happen if this lawsuit succeeds. We are not riding to the rescue, this Congress. Let me just be honest with you. Given how fractious the debate is here about everything, but in particular about health care, there is no way that the United States Congress and this dysfunctional White House can reassemble all of the protections in the Affordable Care Act if the courts wipe them out. That is just not realistic.
“We don't debate anything on this floor any longer. We don't have the muscles to pass minor pieces of legislation like this body used to do 20 years ago, never mind a reordering and reconstruction of one-sixth of the American economy which is what the health care system represents. So Republicans need to start making a decision. Do you support this lawsuit? Or do you not? And if you do support it, you can't just say, ‘Well, you know, if everybody loses insurance and rates go through the roof for people with preexisting conditions, we'll figure it out.’ Without having a specific plan for how you’re gonna do that. It's not good enough to just say,’ I hope that lawsuit succeeds. I hope everybody loses their insurance. And then the day after we’ll come back and we'll see if we can try to find people health care.’ That's irresponsible. That's not satisfactory. It isn't, enough for people out there who are living every day in fear that their insurance is about to vanish.
“And the problem is the last time that Republicans started thinking about what they would want to replace the Affordable Care Act, it was a joke. It was a joke. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, which was the Senate Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act. CBO found that it would increase the number of people without insurance by 22 million. It found that by 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be without insurance, almost doubling the number who lack insurance today. That's not better care. That's much, much worse care. And so forgive me if I don't have confidence that my Republican friends who run the Senate today are going to have a plan to deal with a successful Texas v. United States court case that keeps insurance for people in my state.
“The 111,000 people in Connecticut who get insurance through the private market with ACA subsidies and the 268,000 people in Connecticut who are covered in my state under the Medicaid expansion.
So it is time for everybody in this body, whether you're Republican or Democrat to step up and say, A: do I support the lawsuit to get rid of all of the protections in the Affordable Care Act with nothing to replace it? And B. Do I have a plan for what to do if the lawsuit that I support is successful?
“Chris from Westbrook, Connecticut is asking that question of everybody in this chamber. Here's what he says he says, ‘I'm a 30 year old patient. Living with Muscular Dystrophy type 2B, pre-existing conditions can happen to anyone. Disease does not discriminate. No amount of pre-planning or prudence can stop you from preventing a genetic disease. For example, you can be healthy one day and have a health care crisis the next. Everyone knows someone with a preexisting condition,’ says Chris. ‘It is a lifesaver having insurance, when you have a pre-existing condition, it means being able to afford lifesaving medicines and treatment.’
“He is watching carefully. Chris is watching carefully. See what the answer this question is. Jeff in Enfield told me that in 2012, at the age of seven, his daughter was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. He said, ‘By the time we noticed the symptoms and took her to the doctor, she most likely had only a couple weeks left to live. She's healthy today, thanks to a daily regimen of insulin, but insulin in the United States cost 5 to 10 times what it costs everywhere else in the world.’ Jeff told me, ‘Without insurance, the expense of keeping our daughter alive would ruin us. The prospect of my daughter being uninsurable is terrifying. Without the ACA insurance protections, the problem would be epidemic. The problem of people not being able to afford insulin all across this country. How can anyone be expected to live under that kind of strain especially a young person, just starting out in life.’
“I'm asking this question of my colleagues on behalf of my constituents. But millions of Americans who are sick, or have a child who is sick, are sick and tired of Congress playing politics with health care. You may not love everything that's in the Affordable Care Act. I get it. Republicans didn't vote for it. They didn't support it. They have been consistent in trying to get rid of it ever since it was put into law. I understand that. But I have taken my Republican friends at their word over the last 10 years when they have said that we want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better. Asking the courts to overturn the entirety of the act with no plan for what to replace it is an abdication of that promise that has been made. I don't begrudge people for trying to repeal a law they don't like if they think that they can do something better. But Congress didn't repeal the Affordable Care Act, because people didn't want us to do it. This is an irresponsible and thoughtless mechanism to try to score a political victory. But it ends up playing with lots and lots of people's lives.”