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Warner speaks out against Senate Republican healthcare bill

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner spoke out today against the Senate Republican healthcare repeal bill, urging his colleagues to work together to fix and strengthen the current healthcare system.

mark warnerFollowing opposition from both parties, Senate Republicans delayed a voteTuesday on the measure until after the July 4 congressional recess.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Warner shared stories of Virginia families with disabled children who rely on Medicaid to access affordable health coverage. He warned that the Republican repeal plan would put Virginians in harm’s way, and pleaded for his colleagues to come back with a “renewed sense of cooperation and collaboration” so they can provide “peace of mind” for those who depend on these vital programs.

A transcript of Sen. Warner’s remarks follows.

Mr. President, I also want to share with you and my colleagues a meeting I had last week with a series of families who came in who had children or adults who had devastating disabilities. I heard in particular from Marlo Dean from Virginia Beach who was there with her 15-year-old son Dante who had extensive health needs because of a rare brain disorder. Dante had just received a Medicaid waiver. After being on the waiting list for ten years, Ms. Dean, Dante’s mother, said, quote, cutting Medicaid is not the right thing. It is not the humane thing.

Other families, Angie Leonard who traveled from the Roanoke Valley with her 22-year-old son Joshua who has autism, said this is not what America ought to be about.

Rebecca Wood who brought her daughter Charlie from Charlottesville said she has private insurance, but she’s wondering what would happen when that private insurance hit its cap, a cap that had been removed when they put in place the ACA. Again, Rebecca said our country is better than this. Boy, oh, boy, is she right.

So when our colleagues talk about cutting Medicare, when they talk about cutting it at the numbers they’re talking about, or putting caps back in place, I’d hope they realized that this was more than about numbers of a government program. This is about providing support services, to families facing the nightmare of chronic illness or crippling medical illness and bills, quite honestly, that they can’t pay on their own. It’s about peace of mind for these families.

I’ve said from the outset that there were mistakes made in the ACA, and I stand ready to work with any member of either side of the aisle to make sure that we fix those mistakes. But this debate ought to be about health care reform, not about providing the wealthiest in our country with a tax break they don’t need or taking hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare.

So, Mr. President, I look forward — I hope our colleagues will come back from this meeting with the President with a renewed sense of cooperation and collaboration. I know there are other members of the committee that want to speak on this issue. I stand prepared to work with them and the Ranking Member from the Finance Committee to do this right. But it ought to be done in a way, whether it’s Rebecca and her daughter Charlie, whether it’s Ms. Dean and her son, get a chance to have their voices heard through a regular order process where at the front end of the process we can hear the concerns, get those concerns vetted and make sure that legislation that gets brought to the floor is fully vetted and actually improves the quality of care for Virginians and Americans all across this country.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.



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