July 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) spoke on the Senate floor to discuss efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and highlight the impacts on Maine people. Senator King’s floor speech comes after his visit to Leavitt’s Mill Free Health Center on Monday, where he spoke with clinic volunteers and patients who are already feeling the effects of the administration’s continued efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
“I rise genuinely puzzled; genuinely puzzled about what appears to be an obsession or mania with removing health insurance from people, with keeping people from having health insurance,” said Senator King. “I just don't get it. The data is very clear over the years that having health insurance saves lives. There can be debate about exactly how many, but the reality is – and it's perfectly logical – if you have health insurance, you are more likely to be treated, you are more likely to be treated early, and you are more likely to survive, particularly with regard to diseases like cancer where early detection and treatment is the best defense against this dread disease. I just don't understand why we cannot face the reality that health insurance or health coverage or access to health care is a fundamental right. It's a fundamental part of being a human.
“These are the people that staff something called the ‘Leavitt’s Mill Free Health Clinic,’” Senator King continued, referencing his floor chart (attached). “Every single person in this picture, with the exception of one part-time administrator, are volunteers. These are people that are coming in and volunteering, they are nurse practitioners, physicians, who come in and volunteer a certain number of hours a week to provide health insurance- to provide healthcare to people who don’t have insurance. And I just talked to the director, Patsy Leavitt, and I’ll repeat what she said to me when I was there last week: they want to go out of business.
“We can’t provide healthcare to the millions of uninsured people in this country through volunteers. It’s wonderful what they’re doing, but it’s impossible. This is like having bake sales to support the Air Force! We’ve got to provide health insurance to people. We’ll have a healthier country. We’ll have a more productive country. We’ll have a more economically successful country. We’ll have a more humane country… These are wonderful people, they’re doing great work, but we shouldn’t have to rely on people taking their own time, their own energy, voluntarily, to come in... They can’t fill the need for the millions of uninsured in this country. We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility, when we see a problem, to fix it. I know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, I know that it has problems, I know that it has limitations. We should be fixing it, not sabotaging it… I call on the administration to stop these efforts, to stop these petty efforts, to undermine this law that has done so much good. And let’s come together and talk about what the problems are. I know members on this side are absolutely ready to do so. Let’s talk about fixing it, not continue to undermine it.”
Senator King has been outspoken in opposition to Administration moves and legislative proposals that seek to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and last week announced his support for a resolution that would authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in a legal case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Earlier this month he published a post on Medium highlighting the Administration’s efforts to weaken the ACA. Last month, Senator King hosted a conversation with Maine people with pre-existing conditions, health care advocates and medical professionals focused on the importance of these protections, and released a video on his social media accounts criticizing the DOJ’s “downright cruel” decision.
Senator King previously spoke on the Senate floor regarding the “sabotage” efforts underway from the Administration in advance of the ACA Open Enrollment Period last October. Senator King has also pursued agreements that would improve the Affordable Care Act to protect coverage for the millions who rely on it for affordable health care, and has developed several proposals to make common sense fixes to the legislation. During the health care debate last summer, Senator King outlined a roadmap of health care priorities to stabilize the health care marketplace and lower the underlying costs of treatment and health coverage for people in Maine and across the country.
Photo 1: Sen. King with the staff of the Leavitt’s Mill Free Health Center; Sen. King displayed this photo on the Senate floor.