11.15.17

Murray at Hearing With Surgeon General: With Trump Administration Continuing to Undermine Public Health, We All Must Take Steps To Support Families' Health & Wellness

Senate HELP Committee holds hearing with Surgeon General on bringing communities together to prioritize public health

 

At hearing, Murray encouraged public health efforts that: promote physical activity, improve access to healthy foods, support women’s health, & expand on science-based ways to reduce tobacco use

 

Murray called out the Trump Administration for repeatedly undermining public health efforts:

 

“It’s hard to imagine what else [they] could be doing right now to undermine the health of our communities”

 

ICYMI—Murray also slammed Republicans’ efforts to include bipartisan Alexander-Murray health bill to their partisan tax “reform” push—LINK

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at a hearing with Surgeon General Jerome Adams on how community prevention programs can help improve health outcomes and reduce costs for patients and families.

 

In her opening statement, Murray highlighted the importance of strong federal investments in public health, as well as the potential for disease prevention and health promotion to benefit local economies, stakeholders, and businesses.   

 

But in order for these efforts to be successful, Murray said, Surgeon General Adams and senators must stand up to the Trump Administration’s repeated attacks on the health and well-being of children, women, and families.

 

ICYMI—Murray also spoke on Senate Republican efforts to include the bipartisan Alexander-Murray stabilization legislation to their partisan tax “reform” bill—More HERE.  

 

Full video from the hearing can be found HERE.

 

Key excerpts of Ranking Member Patty Murray’s opening statement:

 

“Disease prevention and health promotion is a critical part of improving families’ wellbeing, and we also know it can help yield better health outcomes and lower costs.”

 

“We all have an important role to play in supporting health and wellness. That means supporting public health—at all levels—including initiatives that promote physical activity, increase access to healthy foods,  expand on science-based ways to reduce tobacco use, and so much more.”

 

“Not only is this an important aspect of improving the health of families across the country, but it’s also our local economies who stand to benefit from the increased engagement of stakeholders and businesses—in partnership with government at all levels—in health promotion efforts.  

 

“I’m looking forward to today’s discussion on how we can continue to bring communities together to prioritize public health…But I couldn’t let a hearing about encouraging healthy communities take place without pointing out that—on the whole—it’s hard to imagine what else the Trump Administration could be doing right now to undermine the health of our communities.”

 

“I will continue to urge the Trump Administration to reverse its current course and put the health and well-being of children, women, and families ahead of politics.”

 

Full text of Ranking Member Patty Murray’s opening statement:

 

Before we begin today’s conversation I want to comment on the decision by Senate Republicans to once again attempt to raise families’ costs and take away their health care—this time to fund tax cuts for massive corporations and the rich—while using the bipartisan agreement Chairman Alexander and I, and members of this committee, reached as nothing more than political cover. 

 

First—let’s be clear about the policy: tacking Alexander-Murray onto the partisan Republican tax reform effort is like trying to put out a fire with penicillin. It will not do anything to help.

 

The Alexander-Murray bill was intended to lower costs and stabilize the market—but millions of people will still be left paying more and losing coverage if Senate Republicans sabotage families’ health care to help millionaires and billionaires get more tax breaks they don’t need. 

 

Second—the way that this was done, by sneaking devastating health care changes into a partisan bill at the last minute, is completely counter to the bipartisan spirit in which we worked on our stabilization bill.

 

Many of us agreed in the wake of partisan repeal efforts earlier this year that jamming partisan policy through before anyone has a chance to see it is absolutely not the right way to get things done.

 

And it’s especially disappointing to see this happen because in working on our bill and reaching agreement, we proved we can work under regular order and find common ground.

 

And finally, Chairman Alexander, I’ve said many times before how much I appreciated your willingness to work across the aisle after Trumpcare failed in July—to try to get a result that actually helps families rather than burdening them with higher costs and causing millions to lose coverage.   

 

I think the work we and this committee are able to do together when we focus on what’s best for patients and families is exactly what people want to see happening in Congress.

 

What Senate Republicans are proposing now is the exact opposite and the wrong direction for families’ health and financial security.

 

It would be deeply disappointing for people who are looking to Congress for leadership—not partisanship—if this latest partisan Republican effort undermined both the policy and the spirit of the agreement we were able to reach.

 

Dr. Adams—welcome, it is great to see you again.

 

As you know, several weeks ago this Committee held a hearing focused primarily on supporting health and wellness through employee wellness programs.

 

And I—for one—was very encouraged by our discussion on workplace wellness, as well as on the importance of protecting workers’ civil rights and privacy.

 

And I’m glad we’re continuing that discussion today by exploring the role of community prevention programs.

 

Disease prevention and health promotion is a critical part of improving families’ wellbeing, and we also know it can help yield better health outcomes and lower costs.

 

Now—one thing I look forward to discussing more about is the diverse role that stakeholders have in supporting healthy communities.

 

As I’ve said before, we all have an important role to play in supporting health and wellness.

 

That means supporting public health—at all levels—including initiatives that promote physical activity, increase access to healthy foods,  expand on science-based ways to reduce tobacco use, and so much more.

 

Again—not only is this an important aspect of improving the health of families across the country, but it’s also our local economies who stand to benefit from the increased engagement of stakeholders and businesses—in partnership with government at all levels—in health promotion efforts.  

 

This is something I know you, Dr. Adams, are very interested in, and I am encouraged that you are seeking input on how the business community can do more to contribute to community health.

 

Now, as you know, many businesses are already working hard on this, and are taking steps to invest in public health efforts.

 

It’s something I’ve seen in my home state of Washington—and I know is happening in so many states nationwide—where we have businesses searching for ways to better support the health and wellness of their workers.

 

And where we have businesses reaching out to our most at-risk populations—of all ages—as well as partnering with health departments and other partners in the health community.  

 

Needless to say, we want to encourage and build on these efforts.

 

Now—I’m looking forward to today’s discussion on how we can continue to bring communities together to prioritize public health.

 

And I am certainly appreciative of your focus on this, Dr. Adams, and I stand committed to working with you and all of my colleagues on it.

 

But I couldn’t let a hearing about encouraging healthy communities take place without pointing out that—on the whole—it’s hard to imagine what else the Trump Administration could be doing right now to undermine the health of our communities.

 

I hope you agree, Dr. Adams, that the following are all essential to supporting public health and wellbeing: investing in public health and prevention—rather than slashing investments in the Prevention and Public Health Fund; helping women get the reproductive health care they need; supporting services that allow people with disabilities and aging adults to remain in their home and part of their communities; making sure people struggling with opioid use disorders get comprehensive health care coverage, including through Medicaid; and responding effectively to urgent threats of disease and unsanitary conditions in the wake of natural disasters like those in Puerto Rico and nationwide.

 

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has failed profoundly in each of these areas—and many others—so far.

 

So—as we move forward with these discussions—I want to be clear:

 

I will continue to urge the Trump Administration to reverse its current course and put the health and well-being of children, women, and families ahead of politics.

 

And that certainly includes any efforts to sabotage the bipartisan legislation many of us in this committee worked hard to agree on in favor of yet another partisan health care repeal effort that will leave families paying more and losing coverage.

 

Before closing, I would like to submit a statement by the American Association for Family Physicians for the record.

 

Thank you, Chairman Alexander.

 

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