Speeches & Floor Statements

Remarks on the Senate Floor on Repeal and Replace

Posted on July 27, 2017

Last Wednesday at the White House -- President Trump invited the Republican senators there -- he recommended to us that we repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time, simultaneously. He said that before in his interview on "60 Minutes" in January – that we should repeal and replace Obamacare “simultaneously,” which means to me at the same time.

I agree with the president, and that’s one reason that I voted yes on Tuesday for us to proceed to the House of Representatives bill because it would repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time. That's one reason I voted on Tuesday for the Senate health care bill that would have replaced and repealed Obamacare at the same time. We should repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time. The House voted to do that. The president recommended we do it. I agree we should --repeal and replace at the same time.

Now, why would I say that it needs to be done at the same time?

Well, there was a time in the past when we might have just repealed it and said in two years we may come up with an answer, but we can't do that now. Conditions have changed in Tennessee. Our state insurance commissioner Julie McPeak says that our individual insurance market is “very near collapse.”

That means up to 350,000 individuals in our state -- songwriters, workers, farmers who buy their insurance on the individual market -- are sitting there worrying in July and in August whether they'll have any option to buy insurance in 2018. So I don't think we can wait two years to repeal and replace Obamacare which is why I voted twice on Tuesday to do it again now, and why I voted against an amendment yesterday which said repeal it now and replace it in two years if you can.

I don't think Tennesseans will be very comfortable canceling insurance for 22 million Americans now and saying, trust Congress to find a replacement in two years. Pilots like to know where they are going to land when they take off and so should we.

We are proceeding ahead with our debate on the health care bill. It may be a little convoluted for people watching from the outside, but it's fairly straightforward. The House of Representatives has gone through a series of processes in committees and votes and has approved a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare now. To do both now.

The Senate has been working for six months, not just to repeal Obamacare, but to repeal and replace it now. There is some urgency about this. We have millions of Americans who are worrying that they may not be able to buy insurance in 2018. That's a very personal worry for millions of Americans. They want us to address it now, not two years from now.

So how do we do that? Well, later today we will have an opportunity to vote for a bill which will take us to a conference committee with the House of Representatives where we can get a solution to our goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare now. It is being called a “skinny bill” because it won't have much in it. It is not a solution to the Affordable Care Act problems, but it is a solution on how we can get to a place where we can write a solution to the Affordable Care Act problems. And it's wide open. For those who want to watch late into the night or early into the morning, we're here. We'll be offering amendments -- people can see that.

When we move to the conference committee with the House of Representatives, historically those deliberations have been open. People can watch that -- they can see that. That will take place over the next several weeks. And then after the conference committee agrees, if it does, on a bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act now, not in two years, then it goes back to the House and back to the Senate for debate and approval on an up-or-down vote. That's the process.

And I want to make it clear to the American people that insofar as I'm concerned, I'm not interested in telling you, we're going to repeal something now, and trust us, trust the Congress to come up with some answer in two years. I don't want to say that to the American people. What I do want to say is, we have major problems with the Affordable Care Act. We can't repeal all of it in the budget process, but the House of Representatives showed that we can make major changes and major improvements. And the Senate bill, which I voted for on Tuesday to repeal and replace Obamacare, shows that we can make major changes and major improvements.

I'm convinced if we can move this process to a conference committee today between the House of Representatives and the United States Senate –that’s part of our regular procedure -- that we'll be able to agree on a way to improve the Affordable Care Act. And what that means is that we will repeal major parts of it, and we will replace those parts with parts that work better -- parts that give Americans more choices of insurance, that give 350,000 Tennesseans in the individual market some peace of mind to know that they'll actually be able to buy insurance next year, whereas if we don't act, many of them won't be able to just like millions of Americans may not be able to. There will be counties, if we do not act in the United States, where some of the most vulnerable Americans have zero insurance options in 2018.

They will have no support to buy insurance.

Those who don't get a subsidy from the federal government -- a hard-working American who might be earning $50,000 or $60,000 a year -- no federal subsidy for that person, and he or she will have such high deductibles that they won't have insurance either. I think we're on a path toward a solution, and the solution means, number one, we move the debate out of the Senate this afternoon and on to the conference committee. And that our goal, when we get there, is to repeal and replace major parts of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, and replace those parts with provisions that transfer responsibilities to the states to make decisions that give consumers more choices of health insurance at lower costs. That's a noble goal. One we are pursuing, and one in which I hope we succeed.