11.28.18

Murray Calls On Republicans to Listen to Voters, End Health Care Sabotage Agenda, and Return to Negotiating Table to Lower Costs

At HELP Committee hearing, Senator Murray calls on Republicans to listen to voters, return to negotiating table to address Trump sabotage and lower health costs

 

Murray: “The will of the people could not be clearer—they are tired of President Trump’s broken promises, backwards steps, and blatant gimmicks. They want real solutions to make sure quality health care is accessible and affordable.”

Murray: “I hope Republicans finally got the message and are ready to turn over a new leaf. I hope they will finally agree repeal is off the table. I hope they will finally agree we should be holding President Trump accountable for his sabotage.”

 

***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR 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 on health care costs, which focused on reducing costs through innovation.

 

In her remarks, Senator Murray emphasized that voters made clear in the recent midterm elections they want leaders in Congress to put a stop to President Trump’s health care sabotage and instead focus on lowering health care costs for patients and families. She pointed to several potential issues where Democrats and Republicans could work together, including efforts to repair the damage of President Trump’s health care sabotage, address surprise balance billing, and bring down high prescription drug prices.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s Remarks

 

“The will of the people could not be clearer—they are tired of President Trump’s broken promises, backwards steps, and blatant gimmicks. They are tired of Republicans’ divisive repeal attempts. They want real solutions to make sure quality health care is accessible and affordable. They want to know that breaking a bone won’t break the bank. That a high fever won’t come with a high cost. That filling a prescription won’t mean emptying a savings account. People want to know that when a loved one is fighting a life or death illness, they can focus on getting healthy, not getting out of debt.”

 

“In order to help drive down health care costs, [King] County has partnered with their local health care system and other employers, developed a wellness initiative, and focused on shifting to value-based care purchasing. But the County has also taken unique and innovative steps to keep employees informed of these efforts, and approach them as partners in making care more affordable. Their success shows cost saving innovation must be joined by education and engagement, so people understand how they can benefit from new programs and initiatives”

 

“Recently, [President Trump] also warped 1332 waivers—a tool Congress intended to help states innovate—so they encourage states to sabotage health care protections instead. It seems like the only innovative thing about President Trump’s health care strategy has been his sabotage. He has slashed investments, shortened enrollment windows, expanded junk plans, undermined protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and more. And when Congress—including many of us here in this room today— got close to passing a common sense solution to repair some of the damage and bring prices down, Republican Leaders sabotaged that as well.”

“We saw in the midterms exactly what we saw before Trumpcare went down in flames—people standing up, making their voices heard, and sending a strong message that the Republican strategy of standing aside and giving President Trump free rein to undermine health care is taking us in the wrong direction. That’s why I’m glad we’re sitting down today to look for bipartisan solutions that will bring down costs for patients, families, businesses, and governments. I hope Republicans finally got the message and are ready to turn over a new leaf. I hope they will finally agree repeal is off the table. I hope they will finally agree we should be holding President Trump accountable for his sabotage, and working to repair it. And I hope they will finally come back to the negotiating table to hammer out a plan for the problems we were sent here to solve.”

 

Watch video of Senator Murray’s remarks HERE.

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all our witnesses for joining us as we continue our series of hearings focused on high health care costs. There’s no question this is an urgent problem. I’ve heard from families across Washington state struggling to afford the care they need. I know my colleagues have heard from families in their own states as well. And we all heard from voters across the nation this month as they soundly rejected the Republican approach of sabotage as health care policy.

 

“The will of the people could not be clearer—they are tired of President Trump’s broken promises, backwards steps, and blatant gimmicks. They are tired of Republicans’ divisive repeal attempts. They want real solutions to make sure quality health care is accessible and affordable. They want to know that breaking a bone won’t break the bank. That a high fever won’t come with a high cost. That filling a prescription won’t mean emptying a savings account.

 

“People want to know that when a loved one is fighting a life or death illness, they can focus on getting healthy, not getting out of debt. That’s why they want Congress to come together in a bipartisan way, and work together on plans to help bring down health care costs. Today’s hearing is a great opportunity to do that as we explore how innovation can help address this challenge.

 

“One part of the equation is innovation driven by employers, so I’m excited to hear from King County Executive Dow Constantine, from my home state of Washington, about how they’ve been tackling this. With fifteen thousand employees, King County is Washington State’s thirteenth largest employer.

 

“In order to help drive down health care costs, the County has partnered with their local health care system and other employers, developed a wellness initiative, and focused on shifting to value-based care purchasing.

 

“But the County has also taken unique and innovative steps to keep employees informed of these efforts, and approach them as partners in making care more affordable. Their success shows cost saving innovation must be joined by education and engagement, so people understand how they can benefit from new programs and initiatives. I look forward to hearing more from Executive Constantine about their approach later.

 

“Another critical piece of the equation is provider-driven innovation, which is why I’m glad Dr. Perlin is here today to share his insights. Dr. Perlin has led projects to improve quality at the Veterans Health Administration and in the private sector, so I know he will have valuable lessons to share with us.

 

“And as we focus on this topic, we shouldn’t forget Congress created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation—a laboratory for trying out new ways to deliver health care to help public programs and the private sector innovate together.

 

“Unfortunately, instead of supporting this lab of innovation, President Trump has worked to undermine it. Like when he proposed rescinding part of its budget in his failed rescissions proposal. Luckily, Congress came together to reject that bad idea. Or when he delayed, and even canceled, sensible demonstration projects meant to encourage providers to keep costs down and deliver the best results for patients.

 

“Recently, he also warped 1332 waivers—a tool Congress intended to help states innovate—so they encourage states to sabotage health care protections instead. It seems like the only innovative thing about President Trump’s health care strategy has been his sabotage.

 

“He has slashed investments, shortened enrollment windows, expanded junk plans, undermined protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and more. And when Congress—including many of us here in this room today— got close to passing a common sense solution to repair some of the damage and bring prices down, Republican Leaders sabotaged that as well.

 

“But Mr. Chairman, I’m hopeful we can revive those discussions in the new Congress, and find a way past the ideological standoffs of the past. It’s long past time this came to an end, and voters have made it clear they agree. We saw in the midterms exactly what we saw before Trumpcare went down in flames—people standing up, making their voices heard, and sending a strong message that the Republican strategy of standing aside and giving President Trump free rein to undermine health care is taking us in the wrong direction.

 

“That’s why I’m glad we’re sitting down today to look for bipartisan solutions that will bring down costs for patients, families, businesses, and governments. I hope Republicans finally got the message and are ready to turn over a new leaf. I hope they will finally agree repeal is off the table. I hope they will finally agree we should be holding President Trump accountable for his sabotage, and working to repair it. And I hope they will finally come back to the negotiating table to hammer out a plan for the problems we were sent here to solve.

 

“Democrats are here, we are ready, and we have some promising ideas where we hope we can find some common ground. Ideas to repair the damage President Trump has done to drive up prices with his sabotage. Ideas to address surprise balance billing so patients aren’t caught off guard by unexpected and unaffordable price tags for out-of-network care. Ideas to lower skyrocketing prescription drug costs so families don’t have to wonder whether they can afford the medicine they need. Ideas to give families facing a health scare a bit more peace of mind by making sure everyone in our country can afford to be healthy.

 

“I’m looking forward to hearing our witnesses' ideas on all of this too. And I’m hopeful that Republicans are also looking forward to taking what we hear today, working to find common ground, and passing common sense solutions.”

 

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