07.31.18

At Hearing, Murray Opposes President Trump’s Proposal to Let Insurance Companies Ignore Pre-existing Condition Protections, Award Bigger Executive Bonuses

At latest HELP hearing on health costs, Murray stressed that Congress should work to reduce administrative costs while assuring safety and quality for patients

 

Murray slammed Trump Administration move to expand access to junk insurance plans, which undermine basic patient protections, noting the most common plans spend about half of their revenue on administrative overhead, executive bonuses, and marketing

 

Murray: “President Trump wants to make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and reward themselves for it with bigger executive bonuses.”

 

Murray: With President Trump “efforts to raise health care costs have become par-for-the-course”

 

***WATCH SEN. MURRAY’S REMARKS HERE***

 

(Washington, D.C.) — Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at the Committee’s latest hearing exploring ways to address high health care costs. In her remarks, Senator Murray stressed that reducing federal administrative costs cannot come at the expense of patient safety, patient costs, or quality of care, and condemned President Trump’s recent efforts to sabotage health care and drive up costs. She specifically criticized his proposal to expand junk short-term insurance plans, which can ignore basic patient protections for people with pre-existing conditions and restrictions to prevent excessive spending on administrative costs and executive bonuses. Senator Murray also called for her Republican colleagues to return to the table to work with Democrats on bipartisan solutions to bring down health care costs.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“I believe there are opportunities here to help reduce health care costs by reducing complexity, while maintaining quality and safety for patients. We know the current administrative system is fragmented, with different federal, state, and private protocols for things like billing, measuring quality of care, and more, so I’m interested to hear from our witnesses about ideas to simplify and align requirements, while maintaining protections that ensure patients are getting safe, quality care and service.”

 

“In fact, the Trump Administration’s Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing a new sabotage step that will do even more to let insurance companies offer junk plans that not only undermine important protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but also ignore requirements that insurers spend most of their money on patients, not on excessive administrative costs or executive bonuses. An analysis from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows that the most popular short-term junk plans—like the ones President Trump wants to expand—spend, on average, half of their revenue on things that have nothing to do with customers’ health care needs. In other words—President Trump wants to make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and reward themselves for it with bigger executive bonuses.”

 

“Unfortunately, with this Administration’s focus on sabotaging families’ health care, efforts to raise health care costs have become par-for-the-course… [President Trump] slashed investments to help people understand their health care options and get covered. He pushed a partisan tax cut bill that meant lower rates for massive insurers and drug companies and higher premiums for families. He handed the reins back to insurance companies by looking for ways to make it easier to sell junk insurance that dodges patient protections like those for people with pre-existing conditions, women, and seniors. He abandoned patients in the court of law by having his Justice Department take the highly unusual step of refusing to defend pre-existing condition protections in court.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

“I’m glad we are continuing our discussion on health care costs—an issue I know families in Washington state, and across the country, are greatly concerned about as many struggle to afford the care they need.

 

“And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the way administrative costs fit into this larger picture.

 

“I believe there are opportunities here to help reduce health care costs by reducing complexity, while maintaining quality and safety for patients. We know the current administrative system is fragmented, with different federal, state, and private protocols for things like billing, measuring quality of care, and more, so I’m interested to hear from our witnesses about ideas to simplify and align requirements, while maintaining protections that ensure patients are getting safe, quality care and service.

 

“Unfortunately, instead of pursuing policies to address high administrative costs, President Trump is pursuing a path of health care sabotage—including ideas that will make this problem worse.

 

“In fact, the Trump Administration’s Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing a new sabotage step that will do even more to let insurance companies offer junk plans that not only undermine important protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but also ignore requirements that insurers spend most of their money on patients, not on excessive administrative costs or executive bonuses.

 

“An analysis from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows the most popular short-term junk plans—like the ones President Trump wants to expand—spend, on average, half of their revenue on things that have nothing to do with customers’ health care needs. In other words—President Trump wants to make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and reward themselves for it with bigger executive bonuses.

 

“I think we can all agree we should be looking for steps to reduce administrative costs to make health care more affordable—and this idea from President Trump moves us in exactly the wrong direction.

 

“Unfortunately, with this Administration’s focus on sabotaging families’ health care, efforts to raise health care costs have become par-for-the-course. From day one, President Trump has focused on rolling back families’ health care and protections for pre-existing conditions, even though people across the country have utterly rejected that backwards agenda—like a year ago, when they stood up and spoke out against the mean-spirited Trumpcare bill that tried to spike premiums, gut Medicaid, and put families back at the mercy of the big insurance companies, who could jack up prices for people with pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, those efforts failed.

 

“So President Trump decided to sabotage health care from the Oval Office instead.

 

“He dramatically cut investments to help people understand their health care options and get covered. He pushed a partisan tax cut bill that meant lower rates for massive insurers and drug companies and higher premiums for families. He handed the reins back to insurance companies by looking for ways to make it easier to sell junk insurance that dodges patient protections like those for people with pre-existing conditions, women, and seniors. He abandoned patients in the court of law by having his Justice Department take the highly unusual step of refusing to defend pre-existing condition protections in court.

 

“And now many of us are concerned President Trump has nominated a Supreme Court Justice who will strike down health care for millions of Americans.

 

“Judge Kavanaugh’s history on health care makes clear he is a serious threat to families’ health care and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, so I hope Republicans will join us in rejecting his nomination, just like they joined us in rejecting Trumpcare when it threatened families across the country last year.

 

“And I also hope they will come back to the table to work with us on legislation that can bring down health care costs, because I know that’s what families across Washington state are counting on us to do. And I have no doubt patients across the country feel the same way.

 

“Thank you.”

 

 

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