09.30.15

Murray on Bipartisan HELP Committee Legislation to Improve Health of Families and Communities

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Executive Session, Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) submitted remarks on several bipartisan bills to improve the health and wellbeing of families and communities. The Protecting Our Infants Act, the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, and the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act all passed the Committee by voice vote. 

 

Senator Murray’s opening statement as submitted for the record:

 

Thank you, Chairman Alexander. And thank you to all our colleagues for joining us today.

 

“At today’s markup, due to strong bipartisan work on the part of many members of this committee,  we’ll be able to move the ball forward on some challenges that are critical to improving health care for families and communities across the country.

 

“We will pass legislation to improve prevention and treatment of neonatal abstinence syndrome, in order to help protect newborns and infants, and give them the healthy start they deserve. I appreciate the work Senators Casey and McConnell have done on this bill.

 

“We will also pass a bill Senators Whitehouse and Hatch have worked on together, which would take important steps toward addressing a serious bottleneck in the process of getting approved drugs to patients.

 

“And finally, I’m proud that this Committee will be able to advance legislation Chairman Alexander and I have worked on to strengthen mental health awareness, prevention, and resources for communities in my home state and across the country.

 

“As we’ve seen far too often over the years in Washington state, we absolutely must make sure that families and communities—and especially our young people—receive the support they need when facing mental illness.

 

“There is certainly much more we need to do in addition to today’s legislation to strengthen mental health care in our country—and I want to thank Senator Murphy for his leadership on these critical issues.  I know this a topic important to many of us on the committee and I hope that today’s step forward can be followed by many others.

 

“Each of the bills we are considering today will help make our health care system work better for patients and families.  I really appreciate the work done by many members here today to get them to this point.

 

“And I look forward to continued bipartisan efforts to deliver results for the families and communities we serve.”

 

Senator Murray’s remarks on the Protecting Our Infants Act as submitted for the record:

 

“I appreciate the work that Senators Casey and McConnell have done on this important bill.

 

“Opioid use disorder is a serious and growing challenge, with devastating consequences—especially for our infants.

 

“And I agree strongly that we should do everything we can to make sure doctors and communities across the country have the best resources available to prevent substance use disorders in pregnant women, treat them when they happen, and do everything we can for infants who are tragically suffering from withdrawal.

 

“This bill would take truly critical steps toward each of these goals.

 

“It would help protect newborns and infants and help give them the healthy start they deserve—and it would give communities more resources to fight a growing problem that is impacting far too many families nationwide.

 

“I am glad to support this legislation today and as it continues to move forward.”

 

Senator Murray’s remarks on the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act as submitted for the record:

 

“In discussions about our bipartisan effort to advance medical innovation for patients,  I’ve made clear that one of my top priorities is getting patients new treatments as quickly as possible, while upholding the highest standards of safety and consumer protection.

 

“The legislation by Senators Whitehouse and Hatch would take important steps to reach this goal, by addressing a serious bottleneck in the process of getting FDA-approved drugs to patients.

 

“By establishing a 90-day review period for the Drug Enforcement Administration to appropriately classify certain FDA-approved drugs, this legislation would help make sure the DEA review process doesn’t keep life-changing or even life-saving drugs from patients once those drugs have been approved by the FDA.

 

“I’m pleased to support this legislation and want to thank Senators Whitehouse and Hatch for all their work.

 

“I also want to thank Senator Warren for suggesting a clarifying change to the bill that we were happy to incorporate into the manager's amendment.

 

“I look forward to continued work on this and other efforts to advance medical innovation and help families and communities stay healthy.”

 

Senator Murray’s remarks on the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act as submitted for the record:

 

“As we’ve seen far too often over the years in Washington state, we absolutely must make sure that families and communities, and especially our young people, receive the support they need when facing mental illness.

 

“A person’s mental health is every bit as critical as their physical health.

 

“The legislation I’ve worked on with Chairman Alexander has been endorsed by no fewer than 40 health organizations including: the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Psychological Association, and Mental Health America.

 

“It would strengthen mental health awareness, prevention, and resources for communities in my home state and across the country.

 

“It would help make sure that when someone needs help, their community has the resources to support them. And that can truly make all the difference.

 

“There is certainly much more we need to do in addition to strengthen mental health care in our country—and I want to thank Senator Murphy for his leadership on these critical issues.

 

“I know this a topic important to many of us on the committee and I hope that today’s step forward can be followed by many others.”