As Republicans Move Ahead with Dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Murray Questions President-elect Trump’s Pick to Lead U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about Rushing to Leave Millions without Health Care
Senator Murray, top Democrat on Senate health committee, asked Price about ACA repeal, which affects 750,000 people in Washington state alone
According to a new CBO report, 18 million Americans will lose health care coverage in first year of repeal, and premiums would go up by as much as 25% in the first year—LINK
Murray: “…just days ago, President-elect Trump promised ‘insurance for everybody.’ But Congressman Price, your own proposals would cause millions of people to lose coverage, force many to pay more for their care, and leave people with pre-existing conditions vulnerable to insurance companies rejecting them or charging them more.”
Congressman Price also faced questions about his record on Medicare, Medicaid, and recent reports he traded shares of health-related companies while pushing legislation that could affect their stock prices
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a confirmation hearing for President-elect Trump’s pick for Health & Human Services Secretary, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned the nominee about his vision for health care in this country and what would happen to patients’ health care in the Trump Administration. The nominee, Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), is a leading proponent of rushing to dismantle our health care system by repealing the Affordable Care Act, voucherizing Medicare, cutting Medicaid, and undermining women’s health. Senator Murray also asked about recent reports suggesting he may have failed to appropriately separate his position in public office and his financial investments.
Video of Senator Murray’s opening statement here.
Video of exchange with Senator Murray asking Rep. Price about birth control here.
Transcript of Senator Murray’s exchange with Rep. Price below:
Murray: If you are confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services you will be in charge of our nation’s family planning programs and policies. You have said that you don’t think cost is an issue for women in buying birth control, and stated – and I quote – “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There is not one.” You did say that, correct?
Price: I think what I said – what I meant – was that when I had patients in my office, who were unable to afford medication, we did everything we could to make certain that they got that medication. And what I meant to capture in that conversation, was that if there are individuals who are unable to afford that medication – or any medication – that there are avenues within the health care system that physicians and others take, to make certain that individuals receive the medication that they need.
Murray: Well let me tell you about my constituent, Shannon. Shannon has endometriosis, it’s a common health condition impacting women, and she said – and I quote – ‘no copay birth control is an essential tool, helping women like me, with endometriosis, who otherwise would have to live with chronic pain.’ So, no copay birth control was extremely important to her. She’s just one. You know, women are really deeply concerned about the impact this election could have on their access to health care that they need. I have heard from many of them. And according to Planned Parenthood, demand for IUDs – which is a form of long-lasting contraception – is up 900%. So I want to ask you, will you commit to ensuring all eighteen FDA approved methods of contraception continue to be covered, so that women do not have to go back to paying extra costs for birth control.
Price: What I will commit to – and assure – is that women, and all Americans, need to know, that we believe strongly that every single American ought to have access to the kind of coverage and care that they desire and want. And that’s our commitment. And that runs across the board.
Murray: Well let me be clear, birth control is an essential part of women’s health care, and if you are confirmed I will be holding you accountable.
Excerpts from Sen. Murray’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
“…in evaluating a nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, I consider whether the nominee has a record of putting people first—not politics, partisanship, or those at the top—whether they will put science first, not ideology, and whether their vision for our health care in our country would help more families get quality, affordable care—or take us backward.”
“…just days ago, President-elect Trump promised ‘insurance for everybody.’ But Congressman Price, your own proposals would cause millions of people to lose coverage, force many to pay more for their care, and leave people with pre-existing conditions vulnerable to insurance companies rejecting them or charging them more. So I will be interested in hearing any explanation you have of how your plans would keep the promises your party has made to the American people about their health care.”
“…while President-elect Trump has said that Medicare should be able to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors, you’ve repeatedly opposed efforts to do so. You even went so far as to call legislation on this issue ‘a solution in search of a problem.’ I disagree. This is absolutely critical for families in my home state and I am eager to hear how you would reduce the burden of prescription drug costs on our communities.”
“…as a woman, a mother and grandmother, and a United States Senator, I am also deeply troubled by the ways in which your policies would impact women’s access to health care and their reproductive rights.”
Full text of Sen. Murray’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Alexander. And thank you to all of our colleagues for joining us. Congressman Price, congratulations on your nomination, and thank you to your wife, Betty.
“Before I begin, I want to say how deeply disappointing it is that last night, Democrats were blocked from asking more than one round of questions on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. And that today, our Republican colleagues are again rushing our hearing on Congressman Price to completion. Chairman Alexander, you have said your goal is to treat the nominees equally. With that in mind, I’d like to point out that at the hearing for Secretary Leavitt, President George W. Bush’s second HHS Secretary, five bipartisan senators participated in a second round of questions.
“For Senator Daschle, nominated as President Obama’s first HHS Secretary, three bipartisan senators participated in a second round of questions. And, in fact, it is completely unprecedented for a Chairman of this committee to block a second round of questions if requested by members. I am aware that we have tough questions about the nominees’ record and qualifications—but so do the families and communities we represent.
“The Washington state families whose lives will be upended by Republican plans to undo our health care system as we know it—whose out of pocket costs will increase, and who are wondering right now if they will ever again get adequate health care, deserve to hear in full and in public what the incoming administration intends to do. And that begins with an open and full consideration of every health care nominee, especially in light of concerns I’ll address in my remarks.
“The health of our families and communities could not be more important to our strength as a nation. When a young child goes to school healthy and ready to learn, she is better prepared to succeed. When women are empowered to plan their families and pursue all of their dreams, our communities benefit. When workers have access to quality health care they can afford, our economy grows. And when seniors are able to trust that the guarantee of programs they’ve paid into, like Medicare and Social Security, will be there when needed—we live up to some of our country’s most vital responsibilities.
“The Department of Health and Human Services has a critical role to play in in our ongoing work to meet each of these goals and many, many more. That is why, in evaluating a nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, I consider whether the nominee has a record of putting people first, not politics, partisanship, or those at the top; whether they will put science first, not ideology; and whether their vision for our health care in our country would help more families get quality, affordable care—or take us backward.
“Congressman Price, I have serious concerns about your qualifications and plans for the department you hope to lead—and I am looking forward to hearing from you on a number of topics. I’ll start by laying out issues with what your record suggests about your approach to our nation’s health care system.
“Just last week, you voted to begin the process of ripping apart our health care system without any plan to replace it—despite independent studies showing that nearly 30 million people would lose health care coverage; even though more and more members of your own party are expressing serious doubts about its ability to unify around a plan; and knowing that in a matter of weeks, you could be leading the department whose core responsibility is to enhance Americans’ health and wellbeing.
“My constituents are coming up to me with tears in their eyes, wondering what the future holds for their health care given the chaos Republican efforts could cause. President-elect Trump and Republican leaders have promised the American people their plans to dismantle our health care system right away would somehow “do no harm” and would not cause anyone to lose coverage. In fact, just days ago, President-elect Trump promised “insurance for everybody.” But Congressman Price, your own proposals would cause millions of people to lose coverage, force many to pay more for their care, and leave people with pre-existing conditions vulnerable to insurance companies rejecting them or charging them more. So I will be interested in hearing any explanation you have of how your plans would keep the promises your party has made to the American people about their health care.
“Medicare is another issue that I will be interested in discussing today. President-elect Trump campaigned on promises to protect Medicare and Medicaid. But you have said you plan to overhaul Medicare in the first six to eight months of the administration, in a way that would end the guarantee of full coverage that so many seniors and people with disabilities rely on. You have put forward policies that would shift $1 trillion in Medicaid costs to states, squeezing their budgets and taking coverage away from struggling children, workers, and families. And—while President-elect Trump has said that Medicare should be able to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors, you’ve repeatedly opposed efforts to do so. You even went so far as to call legislation on this issue “a solution in search of a problem.” I disagree. This is absolutely critical for families in my home state and I am eager to hear how you would reduce the burden of prescription drug costs on our communities.
“As a woman, a mother and grandmother, and a United States Senator, I am also deeply troubled by the ways in which your policies would impact women’s access to health care and their reproductive rights. I have serious concerns about your understanding of women’s need for basic health care like birth control, given your expressed doubts on this topic, your proposals to make women pay extra out of pocket for birth control, and your repeated efforts to defund our nation’s largest provider of women’s health care, Planned Parenthood.
“And I am also very focused on the role of the Department of Health and Human Services in strengthening and protecting public health. So I will want to hear from you about whether and how you would uphold the gold standard of FDA approval; and, for example, how you would approach important programs and rules intended to keep tobacco companies from luring children into addiction.
“Finally, as I discussed at our hearing yesterday, I believe firmly that especially as the President-elect tries to blur lines around conflicts of interest, it is critical we not only do everything in our power to hold him to high standards—but do the same for his Cabinet nominees. That’s why I was so appalled that with four of the President-elect’s nominees currently serving in the House of Representatives, House Republicans attempted right out of the gate to get rid of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Now—luckily they heard loud and clear from people across the country this wasn’t acceptable—and they backed down.
“Congressman Price, the Office of Congressional Ethics has now been asked not only by Democrats, but by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, to investigate serious questions about your medical stock trades during your time in the House. I and other Democrats have repeatedly called for hearings on your nomination to be delayed until such an investigation is complete. It is disappointing to me that instead, we are moving forward with your nomination before we have all the facts. I hope you have come prepared to be fully transparent with us in your explanations.
“I have outlined just a few of my questions and concerns about your nomination. And I know in light of Republican efforts to take our health care system in a vastly different and harmful direction, they are shared by millions of people across the country who can’t be here today. With that in mind, it’s crucial that the voices of people who will be impacted every day by choices made under this Administration are part of the process when it comes to the President-elect’s cabinet nominees. So I’m pleased that tomorrow, Senators Warren and Stabenow will be hosting a forum with witnesses, who can speak to the impact of health care providers like Planned Parenthood, the importance of the work done in the Affordable Care Act to expand access to mental health care and substance abuse treatment, and the ways in which the full guarantee of Medicare has helped keep them financially and physically secure.
“There are stories like these across the country—of lives saved and strengthened because of the progress we’ve made to expand access to quality, affordable health care. I urge my Republican colleagues to attend, and to prioritize what is best for these women, men, and families—not what’s best for politics—as they consider each of their decisions in the coming weeks and months. Congressman Price, as we begin this hearing I would ask you to be as transparent and frank as possible about your views and your plans for the Department, and urge you to commit to providing us with additional information and answers to our follow-up questions in a timely and thorough manner.
“I am looking forward to what I hope will be a rigorous and open discussion today—and I hope that we arrive at the right decision for the families and communities we serve. Thank you.”
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