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Booker Calls for 'Largest Hearing in the History of America' to Air Obamacare Testimonials

Swedish openly gay pastor Eva Brunne, right, is ordained as bishop of the Church of Sweden's Stockholm Diocese by Swedish Archbishop Anders Wejryd. (AP Photo/Scanpix/Staffan Claesson)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said House Republicans would not have passed their Obamacare repeal and replace bill if it directly impacted the health of their families.

Booker said “this craven idea” that a disease is someone’s “fault” and a “millionaire” should not have to pay for anyone else’s healthcare is partly behind the GOP attempts to eliminate Obamacare.

“This is the most pernicious type of evil privilege that says ‘if a problem is not affecting me or my family, it’s not really that much of a problem’ – but you could be damn well sure that if it was a congressperson and their health or the health of their spouse and this was going to affect them, you could be damn well sure they would not have passed this law. And so this is a time where silence is the worst enemy of what we are trying to do,” Booker said during a hearing with Senate Democrats last week on GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is a central part of the party’s platform.

“We need more people to speak up and speak out because this is a test of what kind of country we can be – where is our heart and where is our compassion? And don’t tell me the nation that can send human beings to the moon, that can map the human genome, that could literally have the largest military force known to humanity, can’t design a healthcare system that can protect the most vulnerable of its citizens,” he added.

A group of Americans who rely on Obamacare spoke about their experiences since the law’s passage at the hearing. Booker called on more people to share their personal stories and concerns about the replacement of Obamacare.

“We’re talking about millions of Americans that are enduring the anxiety right now watching Washington, D.C., hold their family’s well-being in the balance and I’m hoping more people will post their stories,” he said. “We should have the largest hearing in the history of America with more people willing to push their testimony out there – share their stories.”

Speaking directly to those who testified about the hearing, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the Republicans could “care less about what any of you think – they could care less about what any of your experiences are.” Kaine said no patient witnesses testified in the GOP-led House before passage of the American Health Care Act.

“When the House was considering the first version of the bill, they had three hearings,” Kaine said. “They didn’t even wait for a CBO score to tell them how many people would lose insurance – how much more people would pay and how folks with pre-existing conditions would be affected. They didn’t care one bit what any of your experiences were.”

After House Republicans passed the AHCA, Kaine said GOP members bused to the White House to “celebrate” with President Trump acted “like they had landed on the moon or something.”

“This from a president who said over and over again nobody is going to lose coverage. Nobody is going to pay more. Nobody with a preexisting condition will ever get kicked around because of that. And the bill that they’re celebrating down at the White House didn’t just break those promises, it shattered them into a million pieces and drove over the pieces with a bulldozer and poured acid on the pieces,” Kaine said.

“We’re not going to entertain anything that would break the promises that this president has made. Why would we vote for or allow something to pass that shatters promises that he made to the American public? We’re going to hold him accountable and make sure we don’t do anything that doesn’t meet those promises,” he added.