(Senate - September 25, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 153 (Monday, September 25, 2017)]
[Pages S5874-S5875]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, on healthcare, last night we began to see 
reports of a new version of the Graham-Cassidy bill. Faced with stern 
resistance from several Members of their own caucus, it appears that 
the authors of the legislation have tweaked the bill in an attempt to 
gain the support of the holdouts. Despite sending more money to the 
States of those Members, this new bill, if anything, is worse in many 
ways than before and, in the long run, will still result in a net cut 
for every single State in the country.
  It still contains a massive cut to Medicaid, it still defunds Planned 
Parenthood, and it actually further weakens consumer protections, and 
almost completely does away with protections for those with preexisting 
conditions--even worse than in the first version.
  The S&P has just come out with a study that estimates that Graham-
Cassidy would result in 580,000 lost jobs and $240 billion in lost 
economic activity by 2027. That is not a Democratic propaganda machine, 
that is Standard & Poor's; down the middle, 580,000 jobs lost and $240 
billion in lost economic activity if Graham-Cassidy is enacted.
  Under the latest version, States would be able to lift the regulation 
that caps out-of-pocket costs, meaning insurance companies could offer 
barebones policies with sky-high deductibles and copays.
  Under the latest version, States could do away with lifetime limits, 
meaning insurance companies could cap the amount of coverage you 
receive for a given illness. Imagine the parent of a child suffering 
with cancer being told your policy only covers 4 months of treatment; 
you are on your own after that--devastating to too many families in 
this country.
  Under the latest version, States could remove the benefit of getting 
preventive services at no cost, such as birth control, cancer 
screening, and immunizations. Under the latest version, States could 
opt out of the preexisting condition without even applying for a 
waiver. So even more so than in the old bill, preexisting conditions 
are not protected.
  States just have to submit a plan that allows for adequate and 
affordable insurance. In other words, the new Graham-Cassidy makes it 
even easier and even more likely that States will allow insurance 
companies to discriminate against Americans with preexisting 
conditions. Again, that parent of a child aching with cancer is in real 
jeopardy. Maybe they can't even get insurance at all.
  In short, the new Graham-Cassidy tells every American with 
potentially high medical costs, you are on your own. If you have 
diabetes, cancer, congenital illness, or asthma, Graham-Cassidy says 
that you are on your own. It eviscerates the protections that make 
healthcare affordable for those who need it most.
  It is no wonder that it is so unpopular with Americans. Recently, 
even though the bill has just been introduced, a majority of Americans 
say they don't like it. The more they learn--just like with the old 
TrumpCare--the less they like it.
  Americans want good healthcare, lower premiums, and more coverage. 
This bill does the opposite--higher premiums, fewer people covered, and 
it makes it harder to get good insurance.
  Guess what. We are expected to vote on this bill in just 2 or 3 days. 
There will have been only a single hearing, which Republicans scheduled 
almost as an afterthought, just to say they had one. Certainly, there 
will not be any amendments to the bill. It is not going to go through 
the committee process. There will not be a shred of input from the 
minority, despite all the complaints that ObamaCare, which did have 
input from the minority, was passed by one party's vote.
  The Senate's former Historian said he could not think of ``anything 
comparable'' to the process Republicans are employing in the entire 
history of the Senate. The Senate's former Historian, a scholar, said 
that there is nothing comparable to the process being employed now--
one-sixth of the economy, no amendments, one hearing, no changes.
  Add to that fact that the CBO will not have enough time to properly 
analyze this legislation. We will not know how it actually impacts our 
healthcare system. At most, we will get a barebones analysis sometime 
today that may not tell us a thing about how Graham-Cassidy would 
impact coverage--the cost of care, the quality of care, and the 
stability of marketplaces.
  It is shockingly incomplete not to have our CBO tell the American 
people and tell us--the representatives of each State--how it affects 
their State and rush it through. Even after the minimal CBO report 
today, Republicans will still be voting on a healthcare bill with thick 
blindfolds on their eyes. They will not be able to see it. My guess is 
that I don't think they want to see it.
  When the American people learn what is in this bill, they are going 
to dislike it intensely--intensely. The new TrumpCare is bad policy. It 
is being jammed through this body at an alarming, ludicrous pace. To 
say it is hastily constructed and considered barely scratches the 
  New versions are coming out every few hours. The websites of the 
Senators from Louisiana and South Carolina keep saying: We are changing 
this; we are changing that.
  It is Monday. We are voting this week. The Republicans are basically 
scrawling a healthcare law for 300 million people on the back of a bar 
napkin. The bill should go down. I believe my Republican colleagues who 
were skeptical about this policy and this process are too principled to 
be swayed by last-minute formula tweaks.
  Governor Walker of Alaska, an Independent, has said he will not 
support a healthcare bill that is bad for the country, even if it might 
be good for his State, which the bill isn't. That is principled 
leadership. I believe the same kind of principled leadership exists in 
this body as well. I know it does.
  I wish to say to all of my Republican colleagues directly: Vote down 
this bill. If it goes down, we Democrats are pledged to work in a 
bipartisan way to improve our healthcare system. We are pledged to work 
through committee, to support the efforts of Chairman Alexander and 
Ranking Member Murray, and to find a bipartisan consensus on a 
healthcare package.

[[Page S5875]]

  We welcome bipartisan change. We know there is always give and take 
when that happens, but usually the product is better. A bipartisan 
process led by Alexander and Murray to make the present system better 
will be a whole lot better for both the process in this body and for 
the health of the American people than this rushed-through, half-baked 
  We disagree in the Senate a lot. Very rare are the times when there 
is a clear right and wrong, but this bill and the process it has gone 
through are clearly wrong. The bill would hurt so many people in our 
great country. The process has damaged this institution and would do 
much greater damage if it were to pass.
  We have a chance--a chance--to legislate the right way, through 
regular order, by resuming bipartisan work already started by the HELP 
Committee, which has had hearings and intends to--at least, as I 
understand it--go through a process with amendments. We Democrats are 
at the table. We ask our Republican friends to join us at the table 
once again.
  I yield the floor.