'It's unfair on a personal level, but even just looking at public health, it is terrible policy for rural America. We cannot have President Biden mass-firing doctors and nurses when hospitals are already short-staffed... If Washington Democrats could safely hobnob in the Capitol all Tuesday evening with no masks, then they ought to stop pushing mass firings of essential health workers.'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks Thursday, March 3, 2022 on the Senate floor regarding healthcare:
"Our nation faces serious challenges to our citizens' health and wellness. COVID-19 has been one of them. Abuse of illegal drugs and prescription pills is another. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are ever present.
"Many of these health crises hit Middle America especially hard, and specifically rural America.
"Data show that rural Americans are disproportionately likelier to die from a number of potentially preventable causes.
"That's why I've been focused on expanding local treatment centers and telehealth, and fighting the drug epidemic tooth and nail.
"Last week I hosted Dr. Rahul Gupta, the Administration's drug czar, in Kentucky. Opioid abuse is a staggering problem in our state and nationwide.
"Last year, even during COVID, fentanyl abuse alone was the biggest cause of death among Americans aged 18 to 45. That is not even all drugs; just fentanyl alone.
"In short, Mr. President, this may literally be the worst time in American history to deliberately cut healthcare access in rural America.
"But that is just what the Biden Administration has done.
"President Biden told every thinly-stretched doctor's office and hospital that accepts Medicare that they had to fire workers who didn't want the COVID vaccine.
"Now, I've been a constant advocate for getting vaccinated. They offer powerful personal protection against hospitalization and death. But they do not prevent people catching or transmitting the current variant. There is no moral justification for sweeping mandates. The benefits accrue to the person who gets the shot.
"What's more, the CDC's own research says that prior infection provides protection that is at least as strong as the vaccines.
"But the President's overreaching mandate ignored that. His policy unscientifically discriminated against people who have immunity from prior infection. They had to comply anyway or lose their job.
"The President tried to force such a mandate on all kinds of workers across America. The courts slapped that down easily.
"But his mandate targeting healthcare workers remains in effect.
"It's unfair on a personal level, but even just looking at public health, it is terrible policy for rural America.
"We cannot have President Biden mass-firing doctors and nurses when hospitals are already short-staffed.
"One hospital leader in Marshall County, Kentucky told me, 'this is an absolute disaster. We are a small critical access hospital with 250 employees... we have begun assessing areas that may have to be shut down...'
"A head of a hospital in Calloway County told me 'I can afford to lose not one more nurse.' He said the Biden mandate "makes no sense for rural healthcare."
"The head of a critical-access hospital in Hardinsburg says, 'the mandate is devastating for Kentucky hospitals.'
"Clearly, many of my colleagues are hearing similar things. Yesterday, over the objections of every Senate Democrat who voted, Republicans stood up for Americans' rights and Americans' healthcare access.
"We passed a resolution to overturn President Biden's mandate that would drain doctors and nurses out of Middle America.
"If Washington Democrats could safely hobnob in the Capitol all Tuesday evening with no masks, then they ought to stop pushing mass firings of essential health workers.
"Unfortunately, if we know anything about this Democratic House, this commonsense measure may well die on Speaker Pelosi's desk.
"I sincerely hope our colleagues across the Capitol will see reason and pass this bill."