|00:00:00||PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO JOIN MY COLLEAGUES IN OPPOSITION TO THE AMENDMENT OFFERED BY SENATOR BLUNT.|
|00:00:04||IT IS DISCOURAGING THAT WHEN WE SHOULD BE HAVING A DEBATE ON OUR NATION'S INFRASTRUCTURE AND SURFACE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS, WE ARE INSTEAD TALKING ABOUT WOMEN'S HEALTH AND CONTRACEPTION.|
|00:00:17||AS THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA NOTED EARLIER, MY STATE IS A STATE THAT UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF UPGRADING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE AND INVESTING IN SURFACE TRANSPORTATION.|
|00:00:26||I LIVE JUST A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE BRIDGE THAT COLLAPSED IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT RIVER ON THAT SUNNY DAY IN MINNESOTA, EIGHT-LANE HIGHWAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.|
|00:00:37||SO WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE, AND THAT'S WHAT WE SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON IN THIS BILL.|
|00:00:44||INSTEAD WE HAVE TAKEN A DIFFERENT TURN.|
|00:00:46||NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND OPINIONS WHEN IT COMES TO ISSUES RELATED TO CONTRACEPTION AND WOMEN'S HEALTH.|
|00:00:56||HOWEVER, WE SHOULDN'T BE TALKING ABOUT THEM WHEN WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE TALKING ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE, HIGHWAY, ROADS, AND BRIDGES.|
|00:01:04||PEOPLE ARE FREE TO GIVE SPEECHES.|
|00:01:06||THEY ARE FREE TO TALK ABOUT WHATEVER THEY WANT.|
|00:01:08||BUT THIS AMENDMENT DOESN'T BELONG ON THIS BILL.|
|00:01:11||NEVERTHELESS, IT IS HERE, AND I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE ADDRESS IT AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT IT WOULD MEAN.|
|00:01:19||UNFORTUNATELY, THIS AMENDMENT IMPACTS MORE THAN JUST CONTRACEPTION.|
|00:01:23||THIS AMENDMENT ULTIMATELY LIMITS OUR ABILITY TO ADDRESS OUR HEALTH CARE CHALLENGES THROUGH PREVENTION AND WELLNESS.|
|00:01:31||CHRONIC CONDITIONS SUCH AS DIABETES, HEART DISEASE, AND CANCER CAN BE AVOIDED THROUGH PREVENTION, EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT.|
|00:01:39||WE ALL KNOW THAT, RIGHT?|
|00:01:40||THAT'S PRETTY COMMON KNOWLEDGE IN OUR COUNTRY.|
|00:01:42||DURING HEALTH CARE REFORM, WE MADE GREAT STRIDES IN IMPROVING THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF OUR NATION BY STRENGTHENING PREVENTIVE SERVICES.|
|00:01:51||WE ELIMINATED CO-PAYS AND COST-SHARING FOR ESSENTIAL SERVICES LIKE MA'AM TKPWRALS AND -- MAMMOGRAMS.|
|00:02:04||I ALSO THOUGHT TO INCLUDE THE EARLY ACT WHICH PROMOTED EARLY DETECTION FOR BREAST CANCER FOR YOUNG WOMEN.|
|00:02:11||THESE TYPES OF PREVENTIVE AND EARLY DETECTION SERVICES ARE VITAL TO SO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY.|
|00:02:17||AS A COCHAIR OF THE CONGRESSIONAL WELLNESS CAUCUS, A BIPARTISAN CAUCUS, I HAVE ALSO HEARD FROM NUMEROUS EMPLOYERS WHO UNDERSTAND THAT A HEALTHY WORKFORCE ONLY INCREASES PRODUCTIVITY AND OUTPUT.|
|00:02:33||IT WOULD BE UNFORTUNATE IF WE ELIMINATED ACCESS TO WELLNESS SERVICE THAT IS KEEP OUR NATION'S WORKFORCE STRONG AND PRODUCTIVE.|
|00:02:41||BECAUSE OF THE NECESSITY OF THESE SERVICES AND THE BENEFITS THAT THEY PROVIDE TO MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN, INCLUDING CONTRACEPTION, I ASK MY COLLEAGUES TO OPPOSE THE BLUNT AMENDMENT.|
|00:02:54||THE BLUNT AMENDMENT WOULD ALLOW ANY EMPLOYER OR INSURANCE COMPANY TO REFUSE TO COVER ANY OF THE PREVENTION SERVICES, ANY ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFIT OR ANY OTHER HEALTH SERVICE REQUIRED UNDER THE HEALTH CARE LAW.|
|00:03:05||ALLOWING THESE ENTITIES TO DENY CRITICAL HEALTH CARE TO THE MILLIONS WHO RELY ON THESE ENTITIES FOR INSURANCE.|
|00:03:11||THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS PROVISION WOULD MEAN EMPLOYERS AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WHICH FOR ANY REASON WOULD REFUSE TO OFFER COVERAGE OF LIFESAVING PRAOEFRPBSIVE SERVICES -- PREVENTIVE SERVICES SUCH AS MAMMOGRAMS WOULD BE BASED ON EMPLOYER DISCRETION.|
|00:03:28||THAT'S WHY I DON'T THINK IT'S A SURPRISE THAT ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, THE AMERICA ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION AND THE MARCH OF DIMES OPPOSE THIS AMENDMENT.|
|00:03:41||I THINK WE ALL KNOW THAT THOSE THAT SUPPORT AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, MARCH OF DIMES, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, THESE GROUPS TEND NOT TO GET INVOLVED IN CONTRACEPTION ISSUES, RIGHT?|
|00:03:53||AND THAT GOES TO SHOW YOU RIGHT NOW THAT THIS AMENDMENT IS MUCH BROADER THAN JUST TALKING ABOUT CONTRACEPTION.|
|00:04:01||ANNUALLY, THIS IS ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, ANNUALLY SEVEN OUT OF TEN DEATHS AMONG AMERICANS ARE ATTRIBUTEED TO CHRONIC DISEASES SUCH AS CANCER, HEART DISEASE, DIABETES AND STROKE.|
|00:04:15||THE HEALTH CARE ACT MADE SIGNIFICANT STRIDES TO STEM THIS EPIDEMIC BY ASSURING PATIENTS WOULD HAVE ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL CARE THAT WOULD ADDRESS PREVENTION, EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT, ALL NECESSARY ELEMENTS TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF OUR NATION.|
|00:04:30||AND THIS IS ACCORDING TO THE CANCER SOCIETY.|
|00:04:33||UNFORTUNATELY, THE EXPANSIVE NATURE OF THE PROPOSED BLUNT AMENDMENT WOULD DIRECTLY UNDERCUT THIS PROGRESS.|
|00:04:41||I'M CONCERNED, MR.|
|00:04:42||PRESIDENT, THAT THE BROAD-BASED NATURE OF THIS AMENDMENT WOULD PREVENT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN THE PREVENTIVE SERVICES THEY NEED AS A RESULT OF THE PERSONAL BELIEFS OF A SINGLE INDIVIDUAL OR AN EMPLOYER OR AN INSURANCE COMPANY.|
|00:04:55||I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS IS THE WAY TO PROTECT AMERICANS IN NEED OF HEALTH CARE SERVICES, AND I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO OPPOSE THIS AMENDMENT.|
|00:05:03||THANK YOU, MR.|
|00:05:05||PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR.|
|00:05:08||I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF|
Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise to join my colleagues in opposition to the amendment offered by Senator Blunt.
It is discouraging that when we should be having a debate on our Nation's infrastructure and surface transportation needs, we are instead talking about women's health and contraception. As the Senator from California noted earlier, my State is a State that understands the importance of upgrading our infrastructure and investing in surface transportation. I live just a few blocks from the bridge that collapsed in the middle of that river on that sunny day in Minnesota, an eight-lane highway, in the Mississippi River. So we understand the importance of investment in infrastructure, and that is what we should be focusing on in this bill. Instead, we have taken a different turn.
I understand there are many different perspectives and opinions when it comes to issues related to contraception and women's health; however, we shouldn't be talking about them when we are supposed to be talking about infrastructure, highway, roads, and bridges. People are free to give speeches, they are free to talk about whatever they want, but this amendment doesn't belong on this bill. Nevertheless, it is here, and I think it is very important that we address it and the American people understand what it would mean.
Unfortunately, this amendment impacts more than just contraception. This amendment ultimately limits our ability to address our health care challenges through prevention and wellness. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer can be avoided through prevention, early detection, and treatment. We all know that. That is pretty common knowledge in our country.
During health care reform, we made great strides in improving the health and well-being of our Nation by strengthening preventive services. We addressed prohibitive costs by eliminating copays and cost sharing for essential services such as mammograms and colonoscopies. We addressed access issues by ensuring coverage for preventive autism or cholesterol screenings, to name a few. I also fought to include the EARLY Act, which promoted early detection for breast cancer for young women. These types of preventive and early detection services are vital to so many people in this country.
As a cochair of the Congressional Wellness Caucus, a bipartisan caucus, I have also heard from numerous employers that understand a healthy workforce only increases productivity and output. It would be unfortunate if we eliminated access to prevention and wellness services that keep our Nation's workforce strong and productive. Because of the necessity of these services and the benefits they provide to men, women, and children, including contraception, I asked my colleagues to oppose the Blunt amendment.
The Blunt amendment would allow any employer or insurance company to refuse to cover any of the prevention services, any essential health benefit or any other health service required under the health care law, allowing these entities to deny critical health care to the millions who rely on these entities for insurance. The consequences of this provision could mean employers and other organizations for any reason refusing to offer coverage of lifesaving preventive services such as mammograms or tobacco cessation would be based on employer discretion. That is why I don't think it is a surprise that organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and the March of Dimes oppose this amendment.
I think we all know the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, and these groups tend not to get involved in contraception issues, and that goes to show us right now this amendment is much broader than just talking about contraception.
According to the American Cancer Society: Annually, seven out of ten deaths among Americans are attributed to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The Affordable Care Act made significant strides to stem this epidemic by ensuring patients would have access to essential care that could address prevention, early detection, and treatment--all necessary elements to improve the health and well-being of our nation. Unfortunately, the expansive nature of the proposed Blunt amendment would directly undercut this progress.
I am concerned the broad-based nature of this amendment would prevent men, women, and children from getting the preventive services they need as a result of the personal beliefs of a single individual or an employer or an insurance company. I do not believe this is the way to protect Americans in need of health care services, and I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.