Video: Brown Takes to Senate Floor to Blast Vote to Take Healthcare Away from Ohioans

VIDEO: BROWN TAKES TO SENATE FLOOR TO BLAST VOTE TO TAKE HEALTHCARE AWAY FROM OHIOANS

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor this evening after the Senate voted to move forward with repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a clue what Leader McConnell will bring to the floor to replace it.

Full text of Brown’s remarks as prepared for delivery follow below. 

Senate Brown Floor Statement as Prepared for Delivery

July 25, 2017

Mr./Madame President,

What happened on the Senate Floor today is outrageous.

This bill would affect all of our constituents. It would upend one fifth of the American economy. Yet the people we serve have no idea what’s in it. We don’t even know what’s in it.

One thing we do know – all of the options are bad for Ohio and bad for the people we’re here to serve.

Behind door number one, we have repeal with no replacement.

That means repealing the entire Affordable Care Act, with no plan in place to replace it – creating dangerous uncertainty that will drive prices up for everyone.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 18 million Americans would lose their health insurance next year, and premiums would go up 20 percent.

By the end of the decade, 32 million Americans who currently have insurance would be without health coverage, and premiums would double.

We’re talking about people like Barbara, who I met in Toledo. She’s 63, not quite old enough for Medicare, and relies on the healthcare exchanges.

Repeal with no replacement plan would create massive uncertainty for Ohioans like her.

We’ve already seen this year what that uncertainty can do to Ohio families, with insurance companies forced to pull out of the market as Congress and the White House create more and more uncertainty.

The dangerous game they are playing has already left nearly 20 counties in Ohio without any insurer next year. 

So that’s door number one, repeal with no replacement – higher costs, less coverage.

Let’s take a look at what’s behind door number two.

It’s the plan Mitch McConnell negotiated in secret.

He’s slammed the door on the public, refused to allow bipartisan talks, and only opened the door to let in the drug company and insurance company lobbyists.

This plan would increase health care costs for working families, slap an age tax on Ohioans over 50 buying insurance, and when it comes to health care costs, I think my colleague Senator Heller said it best: “There isn't anything in this bill that would lower premiums.”

There are, however, massive tax breaks for drug companies that have been jacking up prices on life-saving medicines like insulin and who played a role in creating the opioid epidemic that is devastating Ohio and other states around the country.

And what would this plan do for the opioid epidemic?

It would take away the number one tool we have to fight back – Medicaid treatment.

Right now, more than 220,000 Ohioans struggling with addiction are getting treatment because of coverage they gained under the Affordable Care Act.

As one father told me in Cincinnati, his daughter would be dead from an opioid overdose had it not been for the Medicaid expansion.

This plan would kick those people off their insurance, potentially disrupting treatment for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans as they fight for their lives, and pull the rug out from under local police and communities in the midst of an epidemic.

So door number two, the insurance company lobbyists’ plan – again, higher costs, less coverage.

What’s behind door number three?

It’s the same plan written by lobbyists, just with taxpayer dollars thrown in to buy off votes. But the result is the same: higher costs, less coverage.

They can’t throw money at this bill and make it better.

Take the opioid epidemic for example.

They want to take away Medicaid – the number one tool we have to get people treated – and thrown in a $45 billion federal grant program instead.

Governor Kasich said that would be like spitting into the ocean. The director of Ohio’s Medicaid program said that the Republican Senate plan would be devastating for Ohio.

And they’re not alone. Experts agree: more money with no Medicaid coverage doesn’t do much good.

If someone has cancer, we would never take away their insurance and hope federal grant would cover the cost of the oncologist. This is no different.

And it’s not just those fighting addiction who would be hurt – it’s kids with special health care needs, it’s Ohio schools, it’s rural hospitals, it’s seniors in nursing homes – and their families who help care for them.

Few people realize that three in five nursing home residents in Ohio rely on Medicaid to cover the cost of their care – that’s 60 percent.

These are our parents and grandparents. I met with families in Toledo last week who rely on Medicaid to help afford nursing home care.

Bob’s mother Blanche lives at a home in Perrysburg, and he told me, “My mother and father worked all their lives. My mother is 95 and receives a pension of only $1,500 per month. Medicaid keeps her alive so she is able to spend time with her kids and her grandkids.”

We’re talking about people like Blanche who worked hard to build good lives for their families. They paid their taxes and their insurance premiums.

And they shouldn't have to lose everything because they need more intensive care in the later years of their lives – neither should their families who are already squeezed by the costs of raising their own children.

Another huge portion of the people Medicaid helps are Ohioans who are working, who pay taxes, but who have a child with a disability or with serious special needs.

Nearly 500,000 Ohio children – or nearly 20 percent of all Ohio kids, nearly two in ten – have special health care needs.

Kids like Boaz, who I met in Cleveland, who was born with several heart defects and wouldn’t be alive today without the treatments covered by Medicaid.

Or kids like Benjamin Dworning, from Akron, who was born with down syndrome and visited my office with his parents.

And it’s not just kids with special needs who will lose out. Ohio schools could lose $12 million a year.

22 percent of rural hospitals would be at risk of closing. The list of problems goes on and on.

These are all problems created by this bill written by lobbyists – and the slush fund they threw in doesn’t even come close to filling in the gaps.

Cleveland.com wrote, “As for the proposed $200 billion to ease the path for other ACA funding losses, this too would pale compared with the losses themselves.”

Remember what Governor Kasich said – “spitting in the ocean.”

So that’s what’s behind door number three – you guessed it, higher costs, less coverage.

And that brings us to door number four. What’s behind the last door?

We have no idea. It’s the ultimate mystery plan.

Remember what Washington uncertainty has already done to families in Ohio – nearly 20 counties with no insurer next year.

As an editor at the Columbus Dispatch said to me recently, uncertainty is like carbon monoxide for business, a silent killer.

Who knows what kind of damage this latest vote will do to the insurance market.

What we know for certain is, this mystery plan will mean higher costs and less coverage – because nothing that’s been put on the table so far could result in anything else.

The math just doesn’t work.

How can anyone stand here, with insurance provided by American taxpayers, and threaten to take away their care, or drive up their costs?

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. We have more work to do to bring down costs and stabilize the insurance market. But any one of these options that starts with repeal will only make things worse by driving up costs and sending shock waves through the market.

I agree with Governor Kasich, who said yesterday, “until Congress can step back from political gamesmanship and come together with a workable, bipartisan plan, it is a mistake for the Senate to proceed with a vote on Tuesday.”

Instead of working with insurance company lobbyists, let’s work together.

Instead of listening to drug companies, let’s listen to the people we serve.

Let’s work on a bipartisan plan to fix what’s not working, keep what is, and make healthcare work better for the people we serve.

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