Mr. President, I am honored to be here today with Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota, my friend from across the border of the prairies. And also Senator Shaeen from the Granite State. And I don't think that it is a coincidence that the three of us are out here today. We've worked on a number of bipartisan things over the years. As I was sitting here, I was remembering when Senator Collins stood during the government shutdown and asked for people who would be interested in working with her on a bipartisan plan to get ourselves out of that mess, and all three of us were involved in that effort--which was, I note, half women in the group. And I think it is time to do that again when it comes to health care.

I appreciated when Senator McConnell last week had said it may be time to work to strengthen the exchanges and to work across the aisle. Like Senator Shaheen, I didn't see it as the last option. I saw it was the first option. And I certainly appreciate the work that my colleagues have done to propose some smart ideas that could help us to improve the Affordable Care Act, including the Marketplace Certainty Act.

When I talk to our small businesses and our citizens in Minnesota, they want that kind of certainty to help us with cost-sharing. The idea of doing something more with reinsurnace, which we have just passed on a state basis in Minnesota, with a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor. We're awaiting a waiver from Health and Human Services here in Washington, but we think we should do it in a bigger way on a national leve. So I also support the Kaine-Carper bill. 

The work that I have been doing on prescription drugs. Much of it across the aisle with Senator Grassley to stop this unprecedented practice of big pharmaceutical companies paying off generics to keep their products off the market. It would save billions of dollars for our taxpayers if we stop that practice--unlease the power of 41 million seniors who are currently barred from negotiating for less expensive drug prices. Bring in less expensive drugs from Canada, a bill that I have with Senator McCain. 

I get there is nothing in this new proposal that we have seen today that would help in any way with prescription drug prices, and that's just wrong. And that's why we are here to say--to welcome our colleagues to work with us on some improvements in a bipartisan way to this bill. Because the bill we have seen this morning would again not do anything with minor tweak.

But nothing about these major Medicaid cuts that have brought so many people together against this bill. Minnesota seniors organizations have said that these proposals that we're seeing that are not bipartisan feels like we're pulling the rug out from underneath families and seniors. That's why we have seen AARP so strongly opposed to a number of the proposals that have been circulating around with no Democratic input.

We have seen many, many people that come up to us across our states. I was in Northern Minnesota over 4th of July, and they were among the lawn chair brigade in one of my favorie units in the Ely parade, and the clowns, and the Shriners, and everything else in the five parades that I did. I was so suprised, as I know my colleagues were, at the number of people that came up--especially parents of kids with disabilities--that would come up in front of a whole crowd on the side of the road and say, "This is my child. He needs Medicaid. He needs help. We need you to stand with us." So it's about the lives of people like that mom with that child with down syndrome who needs Medicaid. It is about the senior who knows that they're going to need that nursing home help where 32 percent of our seniors use Medicaid funding for their nursing home help. The woman who told me about her mom who died two years ago at 95 after suffering from dementia for more than 20 years. She had worked her whole life, but she couldn't afford that nursing home and needed that help. It is about our seniors who don't want to see the age tax. It's about our rural hospitals that know how important it is to have health care, not an hour away but 15 minutes away.

That is what we're talking about. So we would welcome any efforts to work on these commonsense bills that we have out there, many of which have had Republican support in the past.

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