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Kaine speaks out on Senate healthcare bill

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, spoke today on the Senate floor following the news that Republicans once again do not have the votes to pass their healthcare bill – known as TrumpCare – and that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, which would cause an estimated 32 million Americans to lose coverage by 2026 and would cause individual market insurance premiums to double.

tim kaineIn his speech, Kaine called for Republicans to drop their repeal effort and let the HELP and Finance Committees have a bipartisan, public debate on health care improvements, including the bill Kaine introduced to help stabilize the individual health care marketplace and lower premiums.

Speech highlights:

  • Kaine told the story of Rebecca and Charlie Wood from Charlottesville, Virginia, who met with Senator Kaine this morning to share how the Affordable Care Act has helped them:
    “Let me tell you about my first meeting of the day. It was an amazing one. I had a mom, Rebecca, and her five-year-old daughter, Charlie, in my office and they had asked for the opportunity to come meet with me to talk about health care,” Kaine said. “The mother, Rebecca, said that Charlie is a case study of why a repeal of the ACA would be a disaster. Charlie has a pre-existing condition because of the CP and her challenges. Charlie has already hit all of the lifetime caps that would have rendered her unable to get insurance pre-ACA.  Charlie in the hospital – because of her dramatically low birth-weight – was the recipient of Medicaid funds that would be cut under the current bill,” Kaine continued. “Pre-existing condition, lifetime caps, and Medicaid cuts. They all affect this dynamic young five-year old who is entitled as any of us to try to be all she can be.  If we persist on the path we are on now, of the bill that is being proposed, we would hurt families like these. We don’t need to do that, instead we can help them.
  • He also shared what life was like for many before passage of the Affordable Care Act:
    “Before passage of the Affordable Care Act, we knew that Americans with pre-existing conditions, like Charlie, faced unfair barriers to accessing health coverage,” Kaine said. “Since 2010, the rate of uninsured Americans has declined to a historic low. More than 20 million people have access to health insurance coverage, many for the first time in their life.”
  • Kaine highlighted that the outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act proposed by Senate Republican leadership would cause 32 million people to lose health insurance:
    “The latest plan discussed this morning by the Majority Leader, that would be just a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act with a promise that we fix it in a couple years, has been scored by the CBO and it said that 32 million Americans would lose coverage and it would dramatically raise premiums.”

  • Kaine spoke about his bill to stabilize the health insurance marketplace and lower premiums, which could draw bipartisan support:
    “There is a way forward. I’m here to just briefly reference a bill that Senator Carper and I put on the table that we think will do a good job and should have strong bipartisan support. One of the ways to address uncertainty in the individual market is to establish a permanent reinsurance program that will stabilize premiums, that will give insurance companies some stability so they can stay in markets, but also enable those companies to write premiums at an average level and not worry about the high-cost claims. We think it could reduce premiums dramatically all over the country.”

  • Kaine commended Sen. John McCain’s call for Senate committees – like the HELP Committee Sen. Kaine sits on – to work on bipartisan health care solutions and reiterated his call for a public debate on health care:
    “Why wouldn’t we do exactly what Senator McCain said yesterday? Senator McCain said we’ve gone about this the wrong way. We should be the United States Senate,” Kaine said. “I am completely confident that if we let the committees do the work they are supposed to do that we will find improvements that will get bipartisan support that will help Virginians and help Americans.”