Soaring prices, cuts in coverage, defunding women’s health care, and a worsening of opioid crisis - those are some of the effects that Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is predicting if Republicans are able to push through their health care legislation.
Blumenthal held what he termed an emergency hearing in Hartford on Monday, to take testimony from Connecticut residents about their views on health care reform.
Thirteen Republican senators are crafting the bill behind closed doors, without public hearings or the usual committee procedure. Speaking to a crowd of about 50 Connecticut residents at the Capitol in Hartford, Blumenthal called this disastrous.
"There is no draft, there's no text," he said. "It's being drafted in secrecy behind closed doors. Their failure to have these hearings -- to have an open, public, transparent process, I think, is reprehensible."
Connecticut’s new health care advocate, Ted Doolittle, said the federal government should be focused on driving down the cost of care, instead of restricting coverage.
"This matter of high cost was not frankly, in my opinion, touched sufficiently by the ACA," he said. "It is not touched at all by the American Health Care Act that is being proposed. Now, many of these problems of health care costs, which include lack of access -- they all get better, or they go away if this nation adopts a true single payer plan, that is true universal health coverage."
Blumenthal said he will take the video and transcript of the Hartford hearing to the Senate, and read it into the record.
Meanwhile, his colleague, Senator Chris Murphy, was part of an effort to hold the Senate floor Monday night, holding up Senate business in order to draw attention to the secrecy of the health care repeal effort. He spoke about the estimate from the Congressional Budget Office -- that 23 million Americans will lose coverage under at least one version of the Republicans' healthcare bill.
"Why are we doing this?" he asked, during an impassioned speech. "Why would you choose to inflict this kind of pain on people? Why would you ask to run for Congress in order to put this kind of hurt on the American public?"
Answering his own questions he pointed to Republicans' plans to cut taxes. "23 million people lose health insurance, and the cost of that is about $800 billion out of the healthcare system. And it's not coincidence that then gets transferred into $650 or so billion in tax breaks for the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and for really, really rich people."
Murphy and Blumenthal were among more than 30 Democratic senators to speak on the issue during a more than eight hour session.