Menendez Warns Against Confirming Controversial Trump Judicial Nominee
Menendez Warns Against Confirming Controversial Trump Judicial Nominee
Readler was architect of Trump administration’s brief refusing to defend the constitutionality of vital health care protections in the Texas v. US lawsuit.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today spoke on the Senate Floor to oppose the nomination of Chad Readler to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Readler was the chief architect of the Trump Administration’s legal brief challenging the constitutionally of the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. An estimated 3.8 million people in New Jersey live with a pre-existing condition.
“This nominee’s record of threatening patients with pre-existing conditions is not up for debate,” said Sen. Menendez. “Chad Readler was the mastermind behind the Trump Administration’s effort to strip away the core of the Affordable Care Act – the principle that health insurance companies cannot deny someone coverage or kick a patient off their policy just because of their medical history.”
“Let me tell you, Mr. President, I spent a lot of time crisscrossing New Jersey over the past year. And I don’t think I met a single constituent who came up to me and said, ‘Senator, what my family really needs you to do is once again let health insurance companies deny us care,’” Sen. Menendez said. “On the contrary, I’ve heard from – and continue to hear --– from New Jerseyans who depend on these protections. They can’t believe that this is still even an issue.”
Sen. Menendez recalled when he met Ann Vardeman from Highland Park, NJ at a roundtable last year. Ann told the senator that she was diagnosed with PTSD after surviving a sexual assault attack and she feared that her health insurer would charge her more “for something that is a horrible thing that happens to millions of people in this country through absolutely no fault of their own.”
Sen. Menendez’s full remarks as prepared:
“M. President, today I rise to oppose the nomination of Chad Readler to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I’m old enough to remember the 2018 campaign season, when so many republicans suddenly became the world’s most passionate defenders of patients with pre-existing conditions.
“They told voters that never – ever– could they even imagine doing anything that would weaken the protections that stop health insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.
“Whether they be breast cancer survivors, or children born with heart defects, or any of the tens of millions of Americans who manage chronic conditions like diabetes or depression or high blood pressure.
“Well, Americans are about to find out whether my Republican colleagues meant a word of what they said on the campaign trail.
“Americans will soon see whether Republicans stand up for patients with pre-existing conditions, or vote to confirm Chad Readler to the Ohio 6th Circuit Court.
“This nominee’s record of threatening patients with pre-existing conditions is not up for debate.
“Chad Readler was the mastermind behind the Trump Administration’s effort to strip away the core of the Affordable Care Act – the principle that health insurance companies cannot deny someone coverage or kick a patient off their policy just because of their medical history.
“On the campaign trail, President Trump spoke of protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions – but we know now that it was just another lie.
“Apparently, it wasn’t enough for this Administration to stop defending the Affordable Care Act in court. The President sought to attack it in court.
“Initially, the Trump Administration struggled to find someone at the Department of Justice willing to take on this cause. In fact, three separate career attorneys at the Justice Department refused to argue the Administration’s position in court. One employee even resigned.
“But Chad Readler, the nominee we’re voting on today? He was more than happy to take on this cruel and unjust cause.
“He became the chief architect of the Trump Administration’s legal brief challenging the very constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
“In other words, Chad Readler’s legal brief took the Administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act to a whole new level -- threatening to bring us back to a time when health insurance companies didn’t have to cover cancer survivors, or individuals with substance abuse disorder, or anyone who has ever faced ever confronted a health challenge in their lives.
“And how did President Trump reward Chad Readler for leading this assault on patients and their families?
“Well, the day after he filed this reckless and morally repugnant legal brief, the President nominated him to serve on the 6th Circuit.
“Let me tell you, M. President, I spent a lot of time crisscrossing New Jersey over the past year.
“And I don’t think I met a single constituent who came up to me and said, “Senator, what my family really needs you to do is once again let health insurance companies deny us care.”
“On the contrary, I’ve heard from – and continue to hear from –New Jerseyans who depend on these protections. They can’t believe that this is still even an issue.
“Last summer, I spoke with a woman from Highland Park named Ann Vardeman who told me she was diagnosed with PTSD after surviving a sexual assault.
“Ann told me that health insurers shouldn’t be able to ‘charge me more for something that is a horrible thing that happens to millions of people in this country through absolutely no fault of their own.’
“Indeed, without the Affordable Care Act there would be no federal health protections for survivors of sexual violence like her.
“Perhaps one of my constituents, Anne Zavalick of Middlesex, New Jersey, said it best when she wrote about her battle against bladder cancer.
“She wrote, “’it is crucial that I continue to receive scans to make sure there is no reoccurrence of the cancer. If I don't have coverage for pre-existing conditions, I'll go bankrupt. Then I'll probably die. So yeah, this is kinda super important to me, personally.’
“M. President, it should be personal to all of us.
“Everyone in this body should take it personally when this Administration attacks protections that 130 million Americans rely on for their health and financial security.
“People remember what it was like before the Affordable Care Act, and they do not want to go backwards.
“They remember how women could be denied coverage for maternity care or charged higher premiums simply for being women. Today, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.
“They remember how infants born with heart deformities could hit lifetime limits within days of being born. Today, families don’t have to worry about lifetime caps.
“They remember how cancer survivors and Americans with chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma lived in fear of being denied coverage or dropped from their policies at a moment’s notice.
“Today, patients are protected from discrimination. But they will not be if the courts side with Chad Readler’s shameful arguments on behalf of this Administration.
“This issue is personal for millions of Americans across our country. From 3.8 million in New Jersey to 4.3 million in Georgia to 4.8 million in Ohio – Mr. Readler’s home state.
“All told, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions may suffer the consequences of Mr. Readler’s assault on the Affordable Care Act.
“These Americans are not Democrats or Republicans or independents – they are human beings with a right to access quality affordable health care.
“Does this Senate really want to reward someone largely responsible for endangering the coverage our constituents depend on with a lifetime appointment to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals?
“I sure hope not. That’s not the kind of judgement we want on any court.
“Last fall, we heard a lot of talk from Republicans about protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
“But we know that actions speak louder than words. And it is action that we need right now.
“We need every member of this body to stand up for the right of all Americans to get quality health care coverage. We need every member of this body to stand up for the principle that no one should be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. And we need every member of this body to vote against the nomination of Chad Readler for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“With that, I yield back.”