Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) delivered remarks on the Senate floor urging Nevadans and all Americans to sign up for health care during open enrollment and highlighting Democratic efforts to protect preexisting conditions and strengthen the Affordable Care Act.
Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery. You may download video of the speech HERE.
It’s open enrollment season for health care right now, which means Americans have an opportunity to get new health care coverage or change the coverage they’ve got.
In Nevada this year, the state is running a new exchange website and working hard to make sure every Nevadan gets covered at NevadaHealthLink.com. I want to thank our fantastic Exchange Director, Heather Korbulic, and her team for all they’re doing.
And I want to encourage all Nevadans to get covered. I don’t think people realize how much help there is for individuals to get coverage at Nevada Health Link. If you want health care, please reach out by the December 15 deadline to learn more about the opportunities that are available to you to be able to afford it.
Open enrollment is a good time for us to reflect on how far we’ve come thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and to take stock of the threats to it.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party and this Administration continue to try to sabotage the ACA at every turn.
At the end of October, the Senate held a vote on Senator Warner’s resolution to overturn this Administration’s damaging and dangerous rule expanding so-called “junk plans”.
My Democratic colleagues voted in favor of the resolution because they know how important health care is to our constituents.
Yet nearly all Senate Republicans voted against it. They voted to allow Americans to buy skimpy, low-benefit plans that send us back to the dark days of health care coverage in America by allowing insurers to sidestep the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act.
These junk plans don’t cover essential services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits, mental health care and maternity care. And they don’t prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions—1.2 million of them in Nevada alone.
My Republican colleagues argue that these junk plans are low cost.
Well, they cost less than some plans, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. They may have high deductibles or exclude coverage of costly services. And by law, more of the money they collect in premiums can go towards the insurers’ profits. When you realize that these plans provide barely any benefits, you can see that for most people, the plans are no savings at all.
What’s more, because insurers often use deceptive marketing practices, people who purchase these plans don’t always know just how skimpy their coverage is. Sometimes, patients don’t realize that their plans leave out much-needed procedures until after they’ve racked up huge bills.
Paving the way for junk plans is just one way Republicans are undermining the Affordable Care Act. The Trump Administration and 18 Republican state attorneys general are trying to get the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the entire ACA in a case called Texas v. United States.
This is just the latest—and one of the most dangerous—of over 100 Republican attempts to get rid of the ACA in Congress and the courts. If the Fifth Circuit overturns the ACA, Americans would lose the peace of mind and protections they’ve told us so many times that they want.
The last thing Americans need is for us to turn back the clock to a time when they couldn’t get health care for preexisting conditions, or couldn’t get insurance to cover essential health needs.
This summer, I met with Ashby Bellows and Charlie Bell, two Nevadans with juvenile diabetes. Both girls are doing well now.
But their parents worry that when the girls are no longer on their parents’ plans, they might opt to ration their insulin.
Unfortunately, it’s a common practice among people who can’t afford the often sky-high cost of insulin—and it can be deadly. In fact, one out of seven Americans knows someone who passed away in the last five years because they couldn’t afford treatment for a medical condition.
Senate Republicans have told their constituents that they will protect Americans’ health care. And President Trump has said he has a plan to provide Americans with health care.
Yet the only plan we’ve seen is an attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and rip away coverage from hundreds of thousands in Nevada, and millions across America.
My Democratic colleagues and I are fighting to ensure that everyone has affordable health care.
My Republican colleagues and this Administration are fighting to take it away.
There’s a clear distinction.
But I believe we all should be working in a bipartisan way to make sure everyone has coverage.
So I’ll continue to vote for comprehensive and affordable health care. I’ll continue pushing to strengthen the ACA and reduce prescription drug costs for Nevadans. And I’ll keep fighting to keep Americans as safe and healthy as I can.