I want to thank Senator Shaheen for her leadership. I'm proud to be one of the cosponors of her bill and her commonsense approach here, which I believe is the one that will win the day in the end, which is to work together on changes to the Affordable Care Act that will help the American people. I join my colleagues on the floor in sharing the concerns that I have heard from so many people in my state and across the country about the bill that have been introduced by our colleagues, but also the other issue I've heard from them is their desire to have us work together to bring down the costs of health care and to make fixes to the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare leaders in my state had come out strongly against the bill released last week because it would be devastating to the people of our state, especially in our rural areas with our rural hospitals. Especially for people, so many of our seniors who rely on Medicaid funding for nursing homes and assisted living.

Last night, we heard that we will not be proceeding to that bill, and instead the Majority Leader wants to bring up repeal of big parts of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Well, I just want to remind my colleagues that the Congressional Budget Office has already looked at this repeal without a replacement. And it's just as bad. Instead of 22 million people losing their insurance by 2026, the CBO estimated that 32 million would lose insurance under the repeal approach and premiums would double.

So this repeal effort doesn't help the health of Minnesotans who, according to the Minnesota Medical Association, would be harmed by what they call draconian Medicaid cuts. It doesn't help our children's hospitals. I met with several last week, and they were very concerned that Medicaid cuts would hurt their ability to provide health care to our kids. Something, by the way, I heard repeatedly on 4th of July in the parades when people would come up just out of the blue.

Out of the sides of the street mixed in with the hot dogs and the American flags would be families, predominantly families with kids with disabilities, and they would bring children over to me to meet and would say how important this Medicaid funding is for their entire family. And I remember once when a mom brought over her child with down syndrome. All the people on the parade route in that block cheered for that family, and this because we know we're all in this together. We know that what happens to one family could next year happen to another family. You could have a child with a disability, you could have a disease that could be debilitating to your family's finances, and that basically we never know what's going to happen to the health of ourselves or our family members. And that's why we have health insurance, and we must make sure that it is affordable.

In addition to that, we've had our CEOs of our healthcare system stand up and say these approaches would lead to major job losses in our state. As I mentioned before, for our seniors, AARP said that nearly half of all adults in my state who receive tax credits under the Affordable Care Act are 50 to 64-year-olds and these subsidies would be eliminated under the repeal bill. This could make healthcare unaffordable, especially for the more than 350,000 people in my state aged 50 to 64 who have a preexisting condition.

It doesn't have to be this way, as Senator Shaheen has so articulately pointed out. I know that several of my Republican colleagues have said that they can't support legislation that would take away this insurance for tens of millions of Americans. I agree. Instead of making these kind of draconian cuts and moving backwards, I think that we have to move forward to help make healthcare in America better and more affordable. We can and should make changes to the Affordable Care Act. The day it passed, I said this is a beginning and not an end. You cannot have a piece of legislation like that and go for years without any significant changes. That's just not how it has worked with legislation in the past.

Every time we have tried to make changes, we have heard that we have to repeal it. Maybe the result of all of this chaos is that they have come to realize that what the American people want, as Senator Shaheen has pointed out, and that is to make changes. I support Senator Shaheen's Certainty Act because it would expand a vital program that reduces out-of-pocket healthcare costs for consumers. 

I support Senator Kaine of Virginia and Senator Carper's bill to re-establish a federal reinsurance program. This idea of reinsurnace is something that our Republican legislature in Minnesota passed on a state basis. I see this not just as a pie in the sky. I see it as something we can work on across the aisle. 

I would like to talk about some of my ideas, some of which have bipartisan support. Again I throw them in a package that we could be working on. I have a bill that would negotiate the power of 41 million seniors on Medicare to bring prescription drug prices now. Medicare is banned from negotiating with all of those seniors. Think of the better bargain those seniors could get if their bargaining power was unleashed.

Senator McCain and I have a bill to allow Americans to bring in less expensive drugs from Canada, which is by the way, similar to the American market. As I noted, we can see Canada from our porch in Minnesota. We see across the border the kind of prices they are able to get, and we think we should--Senator McCain and I and several Republicans voted for a similar measure to bring in prescription drugs from Canada. You could tie it to a trigger if prices rise like they have.

Senator Lee and I hae a bill that would allow importation of safe drugs from other countries when there isn't healthy competition. Senator Grassley and I have a bill called pay-for-delay where big pharmaceutical companies are paying to keep some of their drugs off the market. 

Last, the CREATES Act. Senator Grassley, Leahy, Feinstein, Lee, and I have that bill and that makes sure that we get these samples so we can get generics on the market and create more competition and bring prices down.

So I will end with this. This debate is about the patients of a nurse practitioner who provides psychiatric care in my state. She wrote to me to say, "Please--please do all you can to help these people from losing mental healthcare they need." One-third of the funding in our state comes from Medicaid. Medicaid has helped 1.3 million people to receive treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues.

This debate is about the mom in Minnesota with private insurance who has colon cancer. She's working full-time, raising two school-aged boys, and going to chemo every single week. She says she will not be able to afford the care she needs to stay alive. 

This debate is about the constituents that I noted came up to me in parades--Fourth of July--telling me their stories of how they are concerned about their kids with disabilities and how they are concerned about rural hospitals. We have things that we can do to make this better and now is the time where we must get them done. So let's come up. And we have bipartisan support for these changes to the Affordable Care Act. Let's work togethter on them across the aisle, and let's remember that this is about one team, one country, and we can get this doe.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.