06.27.19

Murray Praises Progress for Families, Calls for Further Cooperation on Larger Health Threats Like President Trump’s Attacks on Families’ Health Care

Ahead of Committee vote to advance her bipartisan health care costs legislation, Senator Murray called on her Republican colleagues to join Democrats to tackle larger health care issues like President Trump’s health care sabotage

 

Murray: “These are all promising steps that will help families and patients across the country, but I want to stress that while these steps are good—they are absolutely not enough.”

 

Murray: “Repairing the train can only get you so far if you are pulling up the track at the same time—and that’s unfortunately exactly what this Administration is doing.”

 

In a few weeks, the Trump Administration will be arguing in court to strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions and strip health care from millions

 

***Watch Senator Murray’s full remarks HERE***

 

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at the Committee’s June markup hearing where it voted to advance several bills, including her Lower Health Care Costs Act. Senator Murray commended her colleagues for their bipartisan work on the legislation which takes several steps to end surprise billing, lower drug prices, and address crucial health issues, including vaccine hesitancy, maternal mortality, and obesity. The version of the legislation approved by the Committee also included proposals to raise the purchasing age for tobacco to 21 nationwide, and to provide five-years of stable funding for community health centers and other critical primary care programs.

 

In her remarks, Senator Murray emphasized that while the legislation represents important progress, far more work is necessary to fix the health care crisis afflicting countless families across the country, particularly those caused by Republicans’ and President Trump’s health care sabotage efforts. She highlighted the Trump Administration’s ongoing efforts to undermine families’ health care, including through a partisan lawsuit brought by Republican Attorneys General, and called on her Republican colleagues to join Democrats and stand up for the wellbeing of patients and families.

 

The Committee also voted to move forward the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019 and the Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2019.

 

Key excerpts

 

“Today we are also going to move forward the Lower Health Care Costs Act. Families across the country have been calling for us to come together and address high health care costs and Democrats have been at the table waiting to get to work on this critical issue. The bill we are voting on today takes valuable steps in the right direction.”

 

“These are all promising steps that will help families and patients across the country. But I want to stress that while these steps are good—they are absolutely not enough.  Repairing the train can only get you so far if you are pulling up the track at the same time—and that’s unfortunately exactly what this Administration is doing. There are still enormous challenges we need to address—and the biggest threat to families’ health care continues to be sabotage from President Trump and Republican leaders.”

 

“Since our last hearing we’ve managed to come together and add several additional bipartisan proposals. The legislation now includes additional steps to ensure rural hospitals’ and doctors’ unique needs are taken into account as we work to end surprise billing. It includes five years of much-needed, stable funding for community health centers and other critical primary care programs that help people get the care they need close to home.  This provision more than doubles the duration of the previous extensions for these crucial programs. It includes a proposal from Senator Murphy and Senator Cassidy to strengthen mental health parity laws meant to help make sure people have access to mental health care. It includes a proposal from Senator Warren and Senator Murkowski to make sure states work with tribal communities to help address suicide. And, this legislation follows in the footsteps of Washington state—and many other states—by raising the tobacco age to 21.”


“In just a few weeks from now, President Trump and Republican attorneys general are going to be fighting in court to strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions, strip health care from people covered through the exchanges and Medicaid expansion, scrap essential health benefits requiring insurers to cover things like prescription drugs, emergency care, and mental health care, and resurrect lifetime and annual caps on benefits—even for people covered through their employers. The clock is ticking. Families are watching. But so far Republicans have done nothing to avert the potential health care apocalypse they’ve set up.”

 

“So I hope today can be a turning point, and that we can build on the bipartisan progress represented in the legislation we’re moving forward, by working together on new steps to undo the harm this Administration has done and address some of these larger issues.”

 

 

Watch Senator Murray’s full remarks HERE.

 

Read Senator Murray’s full remarks below:

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”

 

“I’m glad today we are able to show once again, that when Democrats and Republicans come to the table, and leave partisanship at the door, we can work together and find common ground on legislation that helps families across the country.

 

“Like legislation to reauthorize—and modernize—the Poison Control Network, which provides a lifeline for tens of thousands of patients, families, and health providers each year seeking emergency help for poisoning or toxic exposures.

 

“I’d like to thank Senator Burr for working with me on this important issue. 

 

“And today, thanks to the efforts of Senator Casey and Chairman Alexander, we are also voting to reauthorize another important program that helps kids get critical care—the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program.

 

“This important program has a long history of helping improve emergency care so that we can be prepared to care for children, even when faced with worst-case scenarios.

 

“And finally, today we are also going to move forward the Lower Health Care Costs Act.

 

“Families across the country have been calling for us to come together and address high health care costs and Democrats have been at the table waiting to get to work on this critical issue.

 

“The bill we are voting on today takes valuable steps in the right direction.

“I’d like to thank Chairman Alexander, and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for joining me and all my Democratic colleagues at the negotiating table to work through the various issues in this bill, and hammer out an agreement.

 

“I outlined some of the critical steps we were able to take in this legislation at our last hearing; steps to end the practice of surprise balance billing, so that no patient will get caught off guard by exorbitant charges for out-of-network care, through no fault of their own; steps to make it harder for drug companies to keep cheaper generic drugs off the shelf by gaming the system; steps to address public health crises, like vaccine hesitancy, maternal mortality, and obesity and more.

 

“Since our last hearing we’ve managed to come together and add several additional bipartisan proposals.

 

“The legislation now includes additional steps to ensure rural hospitals’ and doctors’ unique needs are taken into account as we work to end surprise billing.

 

“It includes five years of much-needed, stable funding for community health centers and other critical primary care programs that help people get the care they need close to home.

 

“This provision more than doubles the duration of the previous extensions for these crucial programs.


“It includes a proposal from Senator Murphy and Senator Cassidy to strengthen mental health parity laws meant to help make sure people have access to mental health care.

 

“It includes a proposal from Senator Warren and Senator Murkowski to make sure states work with tribal communities to help address suicide.

 

“And, this legislation follows in the footsteps of Washington state—and many other states—by raising the tobacco age to 21.

“I’d like to thank Senators Schatz, Kaine, Young, and McConnell for coming together to raise the purchasing age for tobacco—and importantly, for doing so in a way that will not require states to pass new laws.

 

“And I will be pushing to make sure we build on that progress with additional steps to address the alarming uptick in youth tobacco use—like cracking down on flavors, which we know appeal to kids.

 

“And I want to say I’m glad Senators Casey, Isakson, and Alexander have agreed to keep on working on legislation to overhaul how the Food and Drug Administration regulates over-the-counter drugs to work better for industry and consumers, and make sure the FDA can respond to safety concerns quickly.

 

These are all promising steps that will help families and patients across the country.

“But I want to stress that while these steps are good—they are absolutely not enough.

Repairing the train can only get you so far if you are pulling up the track at the same time—and that’s unfortunately exactly what this Administration is doing.

 

“There are still enormous challenges we need to address—and the biggest threat to families’ health care continues to be sabotage from President Trump and Republican leaders.

 

“In just a few weeks from now, President Trump and Republican attorneys general are going to be fighting in court to strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions, strip health care from people covered through the exchanges and Medicaid expansion, scrap essential health benefits requiring insurers to cover things like prescription drugs, emergency care, and mental health care, and resurrect lifetime and annual caps on benefits—even for people covered through their employers.

 

“The clock is ticking.

 

“Families are watching.

 

“But so far Republicans have done nothing to avert the potential health care apocalypse they’ve set up. 


“Democrats are going to keep calling on them to do the right thing, come back to the table, and defend patients from these awful consequences.

 

“If we can come to all the agreements we did in this bill—there is no reason we can’t reach agreement on these larger challenges too if we’re focused on what’s best for patients.

 

“So I hope today can be a turning point, and that we can build on the bipartisan progress represented in the legislation we’re moving forward, by working together on new steps to undo the harm this Administration has done and address some of these larger issues.

 

“Thank you.”


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