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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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  • Affordable Care Act

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2015-12-03

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    REID. Mr. President, I wonder what my Republican friends do when they are not here in Washington, DC. Do they bother to talk to their constituents? Do they sit down and meet them at townhall meetings or across a fence in someone's backyard? I have a hard time believing my Republican friends are spending much time listening to constituents' concerns. I already talked about guns today.

    It seems to me what we are doing is counter to the needs of constituents. This absurd--absurd--attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation is a perfect example. Every day the Republican leader comes to the floor and rails against ObamaCare, yet more than 10 percent of his constituents are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act--500,000 people. I can't believe those people in Kentucky are telling the Republican leader to take away their health care.

    Now, he is not alone in pushing the repeal that would expressly hurt people back home. He and the junior Senator from Wyoming both oppose the Affordable Care Act and the law's expansion of Medicaid, but their own Republican Governor--the Governor of Wyoming--is using ObamaCare to expand health coverage for the people of Wyoming.

    Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is proposing a Medicaid expansion that will help 17,000 people. Now, 17,000 people in the sparsely populated State of Wyoming is a lot of people. Governor Mead wrote this to the State legislature: This economic boost would stabilize services and inject tax dollars paid by Wyoming citizens back into Wyoming communities. The numbers are compelling.

    But apparently those facts are not compelling enough for the Senators from Wyoming, who are both voting for repeal.

    The Republican Senator from North Dakota has also been a critic of the Affordable Care Act. Once again, his opposition does not jibe with what North Dakota's Governor is saying. North Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard is fighting in the State legislature to expand Medicaid access to residents. He is a Republican and served for 10 years as John Hoeven's Lieutenant Governor, but Senator Hoeven will vote for repeal.

    The junior Senator from Montana is opposed to Medicaid expansion. Earlier in the month he seemed supportive of Montana's expansion of Medicaid saying: I respect the decision of our Legislature and our governor on Medicaid expansion. I'm one who respects their rights and voices.

    But today, I am told, he will perform a breathtaking about-face and vote to do away with Montana's health care.

    There is a longer list. Republicans from Ohio, West Virginia, and the State of Nevada have all embraced Medicaid expansion.

    In Nevada, Governor Brian Sandoval is considered by many to be a star in the Republican Party. But notwithstanding his party's anti-ObamaCare [[Page S8326]] ideology, he displayed courage by expanding health coverage for tens of thousands of Nevadans.

    I hope my friend and fellow Senator from Nevada will follow our Governor's example and stand for our constituents' health care. Too few Republicans will. If ObamaCare is so awful, why are Republicans from Kentucky, Wyoming, North Dakota, and New Hampshire so eager to use it? It is simple: The Affordable Care Act expands coverage and cuts costs. It is good for the States. That is why Arizona expanded Medicaid. It is insuring hundreds of thousands of Arizonans, as we talk now.

    I was disappointed with my friend. We served together, we came to the House together, we came to the Senate together, and he is the senior Senator from Arizona. He made it clear that he will vote for repeal, in spite of all the people benefiting from ObamaCare back home. This is what John McCain said: ``Obviously the Governor and Legislature in my state decided that they wanted that program and so it is going to trouble me in the vote.'' The senior Senator from Arizona acknowledged that he is casting a vote in direct opposition to the needs of the people of Arizona.

    So if Republicans aren't listening to their constituents or State leaders, to whom are they listening? As always, the answer is corporations. Billion-dollar companies have no trouble getting congressional Republicans to do their bidding. Even as they try to snatch health coverage from 17 million Americans, Republicans are throwing money at corporations. That is what they plan to do with the money saved by repealing the Affordable Care Act. They will hand it over to corporations in the form of tax breaks.

    I have news for my own Republican friends: These multibillion-dollar companies don't need your help. They are doing just fine on their own. The American middle class needs help, but this Republican Congress is doing nothing to aid working families. Why are we here if we are not here to help people back home? When Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich--somebody whom I came to the House with in 1982--was asked earlier this year why he chose to expand Medicaid in the State of Ohio, he gave this remarkable answer: When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.

    That is from John Kasich. He is right. This is an opportunity to help unfortunate Americans who lack quality health insurance. I only wish Governor Kasich could convince the junior Senator from Ohio of that simple truth.

    I say to my Republican friends: Do the right thing; stop this nonsense about repeal of ObamaCare. Everyone knows this repeal of the Affordable Care Act is going nowhere. Instead of wasting everyone's time and instead of ignoring the wishes of the people back home, let's work together to improve health care coverage. There are a lot of things we can do by working together to improve health care coverage for Americans. Let's move beyond repeal and start making the Affordable Care Act work even better for the American people.

    Would the Chair announce the business of the Senate today.


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