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A HEALTH PLAN FOR LIFE, NOT DEATH

 

Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is representative for Maryland's 8th congressional district: Bethesda, Rockville, and Silver Spring. He has been a vital progressive voice for over a decade.

The senator certainly stands out from other politicians. He's the only humanist Congressman for one. Sen. Raskin is also in the Brand New Congress separating corruption from politics in 2018.

And he was the progressive Maryland candidate in Our Revolution. Raskin serves as Vice Chair for the Congressional Progressive Caucus's The People's Budget: legislation saving lives, not taking them away. Their main objective is universal health care for all.

His agenda's outspoken and pro-constituency, not pro-capitalism. Jamie Raskin has spoken positively for more police power restrictions, less military spending, medical marijuana, single-payer health care, wage increase, women's rights and minorities.

"The resistance begins here and the revival begins tonight."

He has also been quoted to say, "Democracy has to have a foundation in the truth."

Full transcript below.



At the 2017 Tax March.

The debate over the Affordable Care Act spanned more than 12 months. It took more than a year. The Senate bill was unveiled today with no hearings, no witnesses, no professional testimony, no opportunity for the public to testifyfor nurses or doctors or patient advocates or any of the groups that are interested. None of them.

LACK OF HEARINGS

In the ACA, there were 79 hearings that I was able to find in Congress, 79 hearings. Not zero hearings which is what they've proposing to do now. There were 181 witnesses, both expert witnesses and ordinary citizens who came to testify before Congress in public.

So far there's been zero testimony on what the ramifications and consequences of the bill that was unveiled in the Senate today.

NO CBO SCORES BEFORE VOTING

We had multiple Congressional Budget Office scores that analyzed the cost and impact of the different proposals that were part of the Affordable Care Act.

By contrast, the House was forced to vote on the GOP health care repeal plan, in this body with no CBO score at all. No estimate on how much the bill would cost the taxpayers. No estimate on how many Americans precisely would lose their health insurance.

We learned later the CBO estimate of 23 million, but that was after we voted on it. So the people who are saying the debate moved too fast back then-a year of debate with dozens and dozens of hearings and witnesses and so on now seem perfectly content with a process where a bill comes out on Thursday and then they're gonna vote on it next Thursday with no hearings, very little public debate, no opportunity for people to come and testify, and no real opportunity for the public to process what's going on.

QUESTIONING PROCESS BEHIND THE BCRA

What's the urgency? If it's such a great bill, then we should be out trumpeting it and advertising it and everybody should have at least one town meeting back in the congressional district to explain how they feel about it. And so everybody's constituents can ask us about the bill.

And it is going to improve America's health care? Is it gonna improve the health and well-being of the people? Or is it gonna reduce the health and well-being of the American people? Is it gonna be jacking up our premiums even move and the co-pays and deductibles up even more?

Well, those are questions that we should have to face with our constituents and regardless of what your political party or ideology is everybody should tell their Member of Congress.

COMING TO AN AGREEMENT

"Hey, at the very least, let's have some public discussion about it. Let's have the opportunity for town meetings across the country before we completely rewrite the health care plan to the American people."

I urge my colleagues to slow down, take a step back, and work across the aisle for the best possible results. There are things we can do together to help. For example, I heard the President of the United States come to our body and make a speech in which he said that prescription drug prices were out of control and we needed to give government the authority to negotiate lower prices. I agree 100% with the President of the United States about that.

There's been no action on that by my friends across the aisle in the House or in the Senate, and I beseech the President of the United States before you advance one centimeter further on this extremely controversial bill which I understand four Republican Senators have already announced their opposition to today, before you go any further on this.

ACCESSIBLE PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION VIA HEALTH CARE

Let's get to something we can agree on for once. Let's find the common ground, and a common ground has got to be prescription drug prices are out of control for Americans. Let us give the government the authority to negotiate for lower drug prices in Medicare the way that we got it for VA benefits or for Medicaid prescription drugs.

We've got that authority but there was a special interest provision slipped into Medicare Part D and the government doesn't have the authority. That's authority we should have, Mr. President, we agree with you about that.

Why don't you put a pause on trying to demolish the ACA and Medicaid and let's see if we can get some prescription drug legislation that will bring prices down for all Americans?

We are ready to work with you on that. There are reports that there's some efforts to come up with a phony plan on prescription drug prices that wouldn't actually give the government the authority to negotiate lower prices. I hope that's not true, but let's have a real plan to bring people's prescription drug prices down.

SINGLE-PAYER POSSIBILITIES

There are things we can do together across the aisle. In fact, the President of the United States said repeatedly during the campaign that his plan would be a magnificent plan. That it would cover everybody. We said everybody would be part of it.

And a lot of people including me took him to be invoking the single-payer universal health plans that work all over the world, that work in Canada, that work throughout Europe and so on.

Mr. President, is it possible? Or Mr. Speaker, let me ask, 'Would it be possible for us to get together with the President in order to come up with a single-payer plan?' The kind that he invoked over the course of the campaign. Let's seize upon the new spirit of civility and community in this body and in Congress to come up with plans that bring us together, that don't drive us apart.

The plan that passed out of the House of Representatives is standing at 9% in the public opinion polls. I can't imagine that the public opinion for the Senate plan is gonna be any more popular.

If this was a "mean plan" as the President said, 'The Senate plan looks meaner or at least as mean as the House plan is but even if you doubled it and said '18% of the people would support it', that's still a tiny fraction of the American people.

The overwhelming majority of Americans are not sold on this idea of turning the clock back and throwing millions of people off their health insurance plans. Let us work together and we can do it!

SOCIAL WELFARE INTERNATIONALLY POPULAR ACROSS PARTY LINES

You know in the societies that have universal health coverage, it's accepted now by people across the political spectrum. If you go to France or the United Kingdom or Canada, the conversatives are not agitating to throw people off of health care.

The conservatives support a universal payer plan and there's lots of conservative arguments for it. For example, 'let's liberate our businesses especially our small businesses from the burden of having to figure out people's health care. Let's take that completely off of the business sector and let's make that a public responsibility'.

The way they've done in so many countries around the world. Wouldn't that be good for business, and doesn't it enhance feelings of community, solidarity and patriotism for everybody to be covered by the health care system of the country that they live in? We can do this as Americans. We are the wealthiest country that's ever existed.

This is the wealthiest moment in our history. Let's come up with a real plan for health coverage that eliminates as much insurance bureaucracy and waste as possible and gets people the health coverage that they need. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to have this Special Order Hour on behalf of the Progressive Caucus."


REP. RASKIN'S OFFICIAL PAGES

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LINKS AND STATEMENTS ABOUT RASKIN

Rep. Raskin Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement (House.gov, 6-1-17)

Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland Supports House Democrats' Call to Action on HR-676 (HCHR, 5-24-17)

Progressive Congressman Jamie Raskin Feels Emboldened by the GOP Majority (Washingtonian, 4-4-17)

Raskin, Others Ignite Crowd to Fight for Progressive Values (Montgomery County Media, 2-26-17)

The 2016 Progressive Honor Roll (The Nation, 12-20-16)

Jamie Raskin, Open Humanist, Wins Maryland Primary Election (Center for Freethought Equality, 4-20-16)

Jamie Raskin on Leading Fight Against Big Money in Maryland (In These Times)