Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, Friday attacked President Trump’s medical care plan that, Wyden claims would not fully fund, or not fund at all, Americans who have pre-existing medical conditions. “What’s being proposed by President Trump is just junk insurance,” Wyden told his colleagues in the Senate.
“These junk insurance plans the Trump administration has revived represent all the worst industry tricks and abuses. They punish Americans when they’re actually in need of health care,” Wyden said. “Junk plans are a scam on people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, cancer, or mental health illness. They exist to prey on older Americans, on women, on the less fortunate. Democrats in Congress are going to stand up for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and I would hope my colleagues on the other side would join us. One thing is clear — the Trump administration will not.”
Yesterday, Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., filed a discharge petition that will force a Senate vote on her resolution to overturn the Trump Administration’s expansion of junk insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t have to provide essential health services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits and maternity care.
Wyden also voiced his opposition to Chad Readler, nominee for a seat on the Sixth Circuit court of appeals currently being considered by the Judiciary Committee, who serves in the Trump Justice Department and wrote the legal argument advocating for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing condition protections.
Click on “continue reading” to read Senator Wyden’s full address to the Senate on this issue.
I’ve come to the floor today to support my friend Senator Baldwin’s resolution that would protect the millions of people in Wisconsin and in Oregon and all across the country who have pre-existing conditions.
What this is all about is junk health insurance. So let’s begin with the Trump administration’s record on this issue.
If you’re a scam artist peddling junk plans, the Trump administration has your back. If you’re a person with a pre-existing condition, the Trump administration is making your health care worse.
Trump officials will get up and talk about “short-term plans.” They’ll use buzzwords like “flexibility” and “patient-centered care.” But here’s the truth: It’s just a whole lot of lipstick on a frog.
These junk insurance plans the Trump administration has revived represent all the worst industry tricks and abuses. They punish Americans when they’re actually in need of health care.
If you’re young, if you’re healthy, and if you’re wealthy, you’ll be fine. But junk plans are a scam on people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, cancer, or mental health illness. They exist to prey on older Americans, on women, on the less fortunate.
And the fact is, junk plans are not new. Americans have rejected them before. Back when I was the co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers, the fraudsters were selling multiple insurance policies to older Americans, who were told they covered the gaps in Medicare. They were big, thick stacks of legalese that nobody could understand. And the reality was, they didn’t cover the gaps in Medicare. All they did was burn through your savings and eat up space in your closets. So back then, the Congress cracked down.
And junk insurance wasn’t just a problem for seniors. Just a few years ago, the Affordable Care Act was designed to eliminate junk insurance across the board. The centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act was an ironclad, loophole-free guarantee that no American would ever face discrimination over a pre-existing condition. That used to be a bipartisan proposition.
But now the Trump administration has turned back the clock. They’re working overtime to make junk plans great again. It’s a forced march back to the days when health care worked only for the healthy and the wealthy.
The open enrollment period for health insurance is just around the corner. The Trump administration already cut it in half, so it only lasts six weeks this year. That means that during the holidays, when Americans are traveling, shopping and spending time with family, they’re going to have to make time to shop for health insurance.
Because of the Trump administration’s actions, these junk insurance policies are going to be peddled at the same time as insurance that would actually cover the health care people need.
That makes life easy for the scam artists, but it’s a nightmare for typical Americans.
Even worse, these rip-off artists have a green light to steal the money Americans pay in premiums and other expenses. According to a recent study, sometimes as much as two out of every three dollars is wasted on overhead, administrative costs and junk insurance profits.
And the disastrous effects of junk insurance aren’t limited to those who are conned into buying it. By bringing junk plans back, the Trump administration is swinging a wrecking ball into the private health insurance markets. It’s raising costs across the board, wasting Americans’ hard-earned dollars.
Senator Baldwin’s resolution is the Senate’s best opportunity to put a stop to these scams. It would throw the Trump administration’s junk insurance rules out, and restore the protections that millions of Americans count on every day.
Democrats in Congress are going to stand up for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and I would hope my colleagues on the other side would join us. One thing is clear — the Trump administration will not.
Adding insult to injury, they’ve put forward a nominee for a seat on the Sixth Circuit court of appeals who made health care sabotage one of his major priorities at the Trump Justice Department.
Chad Readler, currently the Deputy Assistant Attorney General, is the wrong choice to be a federal judge.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration decided it wanted to quit enforcing the rules that protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. In fact, it had to argue in court that it could abandon that core part of the Affordable Care Act, which was still the law of the land when I last checked.
Who did the administration turn to when it needed to cook up a dubious legal argument that it had no obligation to enforce the law of the land? Chad Readler.
And in fact, three career attorneys from the Department of Justice looked at the argument Mr. Readler had prepared, and they withdrew from the case. They refused to participate.
The Judiciary committee held a hearing on Mr. Readler’s nomination earlier this month. His nomination could be sent to the floor of the Senate in the coming weeks.
But it ought to be clear that Mr. Readler is not an impartial individual with the judicial temperament Americans expect. That’s not somebody who should be handed a seat on the federal bench with the power to sign off on the Trump administration’s health care sabotage.
I’ll close on this. The Senate ought to stand up to the administration this week and protect the millions and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. Senator Baldwin’s resolution would prevent the Trump administration from bringing back the worst abuses of junk insurance. If it doesn’t pass this week, this is an issue that’s going to come up again and again and again until it’s fixed.
And second, the Readler nomination ought to be stopped in its tracks. The Senate ought to tell the administration that it won’t rubber stamp partisan judicial nominees with track records of twisting the law to hurt vulnerable Americans.