In new letter, Murray calls on Senate HELP Chairman Alexander to hold Trumpcare hearings, “return to our bipartisan tradition”
Republican Senators, Governors make similar calls following Trumpcare’s disastrous CBO score
ICYMI: Chairman Alexander has delayed hearings on rising drug costs due to Murray’s repeated requests for Trumpcare hearings—LINK
Murray: “The American public has rejected Trumpcare’s higher costs and reduced access…[they deserve] hearings that allow Democrats, Republicans, patients, and families to fully scrutinize and debate Trumpcare"
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a new request to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that the committee hold public hearings on the Republican Trumpcare bill. This new request comes after this week’s decision by Leader McConnell to delay a vote on Trumpcare following the release of a disastrous CBO score and pressure nationwide from patients, families, health care advocates, and Republican and Democratic governors. Ranking Member Murray noted in her request to Chairman Alexander that several Republican Senators, including members of the Senate HELP Committee, have since called for an open, bipartisan process to start over on legislation following Trumpcare’s CBO score.
“The American public has rejected Trumpcare’s higher costs and reduced access, and I renew that request to hold hearings that allow Democrats, Republicans, patients, and families to fully scrutinize and debate Trumpcare,” wrote Ranking Member Murray in her request.
Ranking Member Murray has repeatedly asked Chairman Alexander to hold public hearings in the Senate HELP Committee to debate Trumpcare. Regrettably, Chairman Alexander has repeatedly declined to hold any hearings on Trumpcare and is now delaying hearings on other health related matters to avoid Democrats’ calls for transparency and open debate on Trumpcare.
“I hope our Committee will return to the bipartisan tradition we have enjoyed in the past with an open hearing process, where we can work together on bills and amendments and allow both sides to weigh in even when we disagree,” concluded Ranking Member Murray in her request. “[I urge] you and your colleagues to drop this disastrous legislation, stop sabotaging families’ health care, and join Democrats in working on health care policies that actually help lower families’ costs, expand coverage, and strengthen quality of care.”
Full text of the letter below:
June 29, 2017
The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Chairman, Committee on
Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
Washington, DC 20510
I was disappointed to learn that in response to Democrats’ calls for hearings on Trumpcare, you no longer expect to hold planned bipartisan hearings on the high costs of prescription drugs, and I write to reiterate my request, made at our June 13th hearing, that you schedule hearings in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to debate the Senate Republican health care bill. Both health care and the cost of prescription drugs are issues that can and should be bipartisan. I hope our Committee will return to the bipartisan tradition we have enjoyed in the past with an open hearing process, where we can work together on bills and amendments and allow both sides to weigh in even when we disagree.
This week, in the face of overwhelming opposition from the patients, families, and the majority of health care organizations, Leader McConnell delayed floor action on the Better Care Reconciliation Act until after the July 4th recess. When the House passed its Trumpcare bill in May, Senate leaders said they would start from a blank sheet of paper. When the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their score of the House bill, you said “It’s informative to know the estimated impact of the House health care bill, but the Senate is writing its own bill.”
The effort to pass the Affordable Care Act involved dozens of HELP Committee hearings, the inclusion of 160 Republican amendments, and a full 25 days of debate on the Senate floor. In stark contrast, over a month, you worked behind closed doors with an all-male group of 13 Senators to write the bill that Budget Committee Chairman Enzi released to the public last week, just days before Leader McConnell planned a vote. The CBO estimate of that bill, published only two days ago, shows that the working group of 13 men didn’t actually start from scratch – but instead, warmed over the House bill. The CBO confirmed that the Senate bill would increase out-of-pocket costs for millions of people, rips coverage away from 22 million people, and destabilize the individual market in many rural communities.
Many Republicans, including members of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, responded to the CBO’s devastating report by saying it is finally time to start over and work with Democrats on bipartisan health legislation. They said that they would rather have an open, process under regular order, including committee hearings and markups:
“Would I have preferred a more open process? The answer is yes.” – Senator Cassidy
“I would have preferred that it go through committee.” - Senator Paul
“This is not for Republicans to fix or Democrats to fix – this is for us as Americans to fix.” – Senator Murkowski
“I want to work with my GOP and Democratic colleagues to fix the flaws in the ACA.” Senator Collins
The nation’s governors agree. In a letter to Senators McConnell and Schumer earlier this month, a group of three Republican and four Democratic governors wrote, “while we certainly agree that reforms need to be made to our nation’s health care system, as Governors from both sides of the political aisle, we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion.”
In May, Senator Wyden and I wrote to you and Senator Hatch asking for a public hearing on Trumpcare. The American public has rejected Trumpcare’s higher costs and reduced access, and I renew that request to hold hearings that allow Democrats, Republicans, patients, and families to fully scrutinize and debate Trumpcare, and continue urging you and your colleagues to drop this disastrous legislation, stop sabotaging families’ health care, and join Democrats in working on health care policies that actually help lower families’ costs, expand coverage, and strengthen quality of care.