Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and fellow Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Ron Wyden condemned the newly released Senate healthcare bill during a press conference on Thursday, calling the Better Care Reconciliation Act “meaner” than the House bill passed in May.
The senators stood next to a sign that quoted President Donald Trump’s reported description of the House American Health Care Act as “mean.” At the beginning of the conference, Schumer took a marker out of his suit jacket and added “er” to “mean.”
“Somewhere in America, Mr. President, there’s a family who takes a trip each Friday to visit grandma or grandpa at a nursing home,” Schumer said, “who sacrificed all their savings to pay for their healthcare until they had no more savings, and now they rely on Medicaid to help pay the cost of longterm care in a nursing home.”
Schumer argued that the Senate’s version of the legislation makes deep cuts to Medicaid, increases healthcare costs and premiums, “abandons” individuals with pre-existing conditions, and defunds Planned Parenthood. He argued that the bill is ultimately a means to give “giant” tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.
“Every American should be asking their Republican senators one simple question this weekend: why do the wealthy deserve a tax cut more than we deserve healthcare,” Schumer continued.
Murray argued the bill strips protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and criticised what she called “unprecedented” secrecy surrounding the crafting of the draft legislation, which is scheduled for a vote next Thursday.
“There have been no hearings, no scrutiny, no public input,” she said.
Wyden argued that the Senate bill is a “con” that would strip vulnerable people of insurance.
“The Senate Republicans are trying to con Americans into thinking that they are fixing problems here, when in fact what they’re doing is causing new ones,” he said.
Wyden, who helped craft the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, called Republicans’ claim that Democrats have refused to work across the aisle on the bill “a gross fiction.”
“Not once have I or my colleagues been asked by a single Republican to work on this bill or discuss bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act,” Wyden said. “The statement this morning that Democrats refused to work with the other side is not just a fiction, it’s a gross fiction.”
Schumer concluded by claiming that many Republicans reject the notion that the government should provide health insurance to needy Americans.
“This is a nasty bill and they’re trying to cover it up with little things here and there,” Schumer said, adding, “The most conservative — they don’t believe there should be Medicaid at all and this is a step to eradicating it.”
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