Sinema Speaks on Senate Floor Defending Arizonans’ Critical Health Care Protections

Oct 29, 2019

Sinema: ‘It’s time to get partisan politics out of Arizonans’ health care’

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema spoke on the Senate floor today and urged her Senate colleagues to stop playing politics with Arizonans’ health care and start protecting access to health care coverage for all Americans. During her speech, Sinema highlighted the stories of Arizonans with pre-existing conditions who deserve critical health care protections.

Sinema is focused on protecting health care coverage and lowering the cost of care for all Arizonans. Earlier this year she cosponsored the No Junk Plans Act to stop insurance companies from offering short-term plans that don’t protect people with pre-existing conditions. Sinema also backed Senate Resolutions, calling on Congress and the federal government to defend Americans with pre-existing conditions in court cases where health care coverage is at risk.

Below is Sinema’s speech as delivered. Click HERE to watch Sinema’s speech.

Mister President, I ask for the quorum-call to be dispensed with.

Mister President, I rise today to address one of the biggest concerns facing everyday families in Arizona: making health care affordable and maintaining critical health care protections.

Sometimes the issues discussed on the Senate floor appear far removed from the concerns of everyday Americans—but not today.

Today’s debate focuses the Senate’s attention on the most important issue for many Arizonans, and offers elected leaders the opportunity to reject partisan political games in favor of commonsense solutions.

Not long ago, insurance companies were allowed to deny care, or overcharge Americans based on the fact that those Americans had been sick before or had been born with a chronic condition.

Arizonans who had previously been treated for skin cancer or diabetes were told that no insurance company would cover them, or that the insurance plans they’d purchased would not cover their pre-existing condition, despite promises of comprehensive coverage.

Beyond major illnesses, even Arizonans with common conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and even acne, were denied the coverage they needed.

Until recently, insurance companies had also been allowed to charge consumers high prices for insurance plans, only to leave out coverage for essential health benefits that virtually all Americans eventually need, like prescription drug costs, ambulance costs, and hospital stays—critical needs that consumers rightly expect will be covered.

Insurance is supposed to be there when people need it.

Hardworking Americans who play by the rules and pay their monthly premiums shouldn’t have the rug pulled out from under them at the very moment they need health care.

That’s why such discrimination against people with pre-existing health conditions is now banned, and why health insurance plans are now required to cover essential health benefits.

And that’s why it is so disturbing that the administration and some members of Congress have begun moving backwards, allowing insurance companies to again sell plans to Americans that lack the very health protections consumers need.

Congress has a lot of work to do to make heath care affordable and protect access for American families and businesses, from lowering premiums to stopping surprise medical billing.

Partisan approaches won’t solve these challenges. We can and must work across the aisle to pass bipartisan solutions – such as increasing the number of doctors to address provider shortages, lowering costs for home health services, expanding mental health care, and eliminating the Health Insurance Tax. I have partnered with colleagues on both sides of the aisle sponsoring legislation to achieve those goals.

But allowing insurance companies to return to their old practices will only hurt everyday Arizona families.

These health plans that lack key protections are called “junk plans” for a good reason. Junk plans mislead Arizonans—selling something billed as health insurance, when in fact, it’s better described as a bill of goods.

And when Arizonans who are sold these plans need to use the coverage they’ve paid for, the rug gets pulled out from under them, yet again.

I hear from hardworking Arizonans on a daily basis who deserve access to critical health care protections:

Arizonans like Chantal who has a pre-existing auto-immune disease that, without treatment, would cause her to become blind;

Arizonans like Corrine from Phoenix, whose daughter was born with a congenital heart condition. Before the law protected people with pre-existing conditions, Corrine’s family was unable to find an insurer who would cover their family;

And Arizonans like John from Casa Grande who signed up for a plan he was told covered pre-existing conditions, only to find out after he paid his first month’s premium that his particular pre-existing condition wouldn’t qualify for coverage.

There are 2.8 million Arizonans under the age of 65—just like Chantal, Corrine, and John—who live with pre-existing health conditions. That’s half of all non-elderly Arizonans whose health care is at risk.

These Arizonans remind us exactly what’s at stake, and exactly what is wrong with partisan politics in Washington today.

For too long, too many elected officials here have focused on how they can score political points to help them win the next election, at the expense of the health and security of everyday families. Arizonans are rightly worried that the dysfunction and chaos they see coming from Washington could threaten their coverage.

That is unacceptable. It’s time to get partisan politics out of Arizonans’ health care. I call on both parties to quit the partisan games, come together, and stop the sale of junk plans that fail to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

We must protect access to health care for these millions of Arizonans, and tens of millions of Americans, and we must make health care more affordable for everyday families. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on Senate Joint Resolution 52.

Thank you, Mister President. I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.