09.22.17

[VIDEO] Sen. Coons on Fox: “Everybody should be listening closely to the advocates for America's patients, for America's doctors, for America's hospitals when they raise real concerns about this bill.”

Sen. Coons: “I’ve got a lot of concerns about how it will affect Delaware and how it will affect the country.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined Fox News yesterday to discuss Senate Republicans’ latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

 

“I was encouraged over the last month by bipartisan progress being made by Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, and Senator Patty Murray, Democrat from Washington, who had a dozen hearings together to hear from governors, from insurance commissioners, from health care leaders across the country. I felt like we were making steady progress towards a bipartisan compromise to address some of the challenges and problems with the Affordable Care Act. Instead, there's been an abrupt halt to that effort by the Republican leader of that effort, and now we're going to have a vote coming week on this bill." 

Full audio and video available here.

Excerpts from the interview:

Senator Coons on health care: Well, I listened earlier today to the leaders of Delaware's health care community, the head of our largest hospital, a representative from the American Cancer Society, folks who are charged with delivering health care and folks who advocate for those who receive health care. They were unanimously opposed to this proposal. That's also true at the national level. America's doctors, through The American Medical Association, America's hospitals through the American Hospital Association, the AARP which advocates for America's seniors, are all opposed to this bill because they see it ending Medicaid as we know it, putting a cap on how much the federal government will spend on any individual with Medicaid going forward, and they see it as creating chaos in the individual markets. I was encouraged over the last month by bipartisan progress being made by Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, and Senator Patty Murray, Democrat from Washington, who had a dozen hearings together to hear from governors, from insurance commissioners, from health care leaders across the country. I felt like we were making steady progress towards a bipartisan compromise to address some of the challenges and problems with the Affordable Care Act. Instead, there's been an abrupt halt to that effort by the Republican leader of that effort, and now we're going to have a vote coming week on this bill. I’ve got a lot of concerns about how it will affect Delaware and how it will affect the country. I plan to vote against it. 

More on health care: That's one of the most positive arguments for the bill is that it pushes back to the states the responsibility, the freedom, and cost for providing for health care. Medicaid is a program that's absolutely vital for caring for low-income seniors who are in nursing homes or caring for children who are in children's hospitals. In my view, my faith, my perspective on how we care for others for the least of these in our society, is that we should not reduce the number of Americans who have access to Medicaid but increase the number of Americans who have access to high-quality health care through Medicaid. This pushes those choices back to states and would increase the cost in my state by a billion dollars by 2027. I think we will genuinely struggle as a state to meet that cost. 

More on health care: There are two problems with this legislation, specifically on the point that Senator Cassidy was speaking about. First, there is no enforcement mechanism for the provision. If a state applies for a waiver, they are required to demonstrate how they expect they will meet this concern about pre-existing conditions. But there's no enforcement mechanism. Our concern is that many states will apply, making a fair showing of how they will enforce it, but there's no way the federal government can hold it to them. 

More on health care: What I'm saying is that sentence is in the bill, that's correct. There is no definition of adequate and affordable. More importantly, there is no enforcement mechanism that says exactly how the federal government will hold the state to that description that they are supposed to provide. Health professionals from a wide range of backgrounds have criticized this bill as lacking an effective enforcement mechanism. There's also a provision that suggests it's possible for health insurers to rate beneficiaries differently based on their previous health experience. I have a concern that that suggests that the ban in the Affordable Care Act on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions will be easily overridden when states apply for waivers under this Cassidy-Graham plan. 

More on health care: Yes. I think this will be a very close vote this coming week, and I think frankly everybody should be listening closely to the advocates for America's patients, for America's doctors, for America's hospitals when they raise real concerns about this bill. 

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Press Contact

Sean Coit at 202-224-5042 or Sean_Coit@coons.senate.gov