WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care spoke on the floor of the United States Senate on Thursday to respond to the so-called discussion draft legislation released by Senate Republicans after secret negotiations among a select male-only group. Excerpts of Senator Cardin’s remarks can be found below. Video of his comments can be downloaded here or watched here.
“This is a shameful moment for the United States Senate. The Senate, which has been known as a body that allows for robust debate and benefits from the views of all 100 members, has been badly damaged by what the Majority Leader has done in bringing to the floor of the United States Senate a bill that affects one-sixth of the economy of our country without deliberation by our committees and without transparency to the American people. You cannot justify this process. This is an abuse by the Majority, and it will affect the functioning of the United States Senate.
“The process is terrible and the impact on the Senate terrible. But the real tragedy here is the impact it would have on health care in America if this bill were to become law.
“1.2 million Marylanders are in our state Medicaid program. Many of these people are working families. Many of these people are our seniors who need long-term care and are in the Medicaid program because it pays for their long-term care expenses. Many of these people are veterans, returning warriors who are under the Medicaid program. Under the Republican-released bill, there may be gentler slope before we feel the full impact of the Medicaid cuts, but the Medicaid reductions are even more severe than under the House-passed bill.
“Republicans also claim that there are protection for preexisting conditions, but their bill does not guarantee that the services will be provided. If someone has a mental illness or someone has a drug addiction, is there a guaranteed coverage saying that person would be able to get services? If that person has a preexisting condition, it may very well not be covered because of the absence of essential health benefits.
“I know Maryland’s legislature is going to try to do what’s right. But they have limited resources in order to try to meet the needs that are out there. It’s just not right to say that we’re passing these problems on to the states when the states don’t have the fiscal capacity to deal with it.
“Close to a trillion dollars in tax cuts is what Republicans have in this bill. Who benefits? The wealthy – those who have access to health care. And who pays for the tax cuts? Those who are the most vulnerable in our community. It’s just wrong.
“I’m deeply concerned as the impact this is going to have on the people of Maryland and our nation. I will join my colleagues in doing everything I possibly can during the limited opportunities we have, only on the floor of the Senate, not in our committees, to do everything I can to protect the people of Maryland and our nation so that health care can be a right and not a privilege.”