06.27.18

Senator Murray: Republicans Must Address Elephant in the Room on High Health Costs—President Trump’s Sabotage

At HELP hearing on health costs, Murray condemned sabotage by the Trump Administration, which has hiked premiums and eroded patient protections

 

Murray also criticized President Trump’s inaction on his promises to lower drug costs and efforts to sabotage innovative pilot programs to deliver high quality care at lower costs

 

Murray: “Since day one, [President Trump has] not only failed to rein in prescription drug prices, but has brought chaos, uncertainty, and higher costs to health care in this country across the board.”

 

Murray: “… we can’t talk about higher health care costs in our country today without acknowledging the elephant in the room, which is that President Trump has dramatically increased them.”

 

Murray spotlighted Washington state’s Medicaid Transformation program for pioneering innovative programs to deliver higher quality care at lower costs

 

***WATCH SEN. 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 hearing on ways to reduce health care costs. In her remarks, Senator Murray underscored the need for immediate action to address the damaging impact of President Trump’s repeated acts of health care sabotage, which have raised insurance premiums, weakened patient protections, and made it harder for families to get the care they need. She also criticized President Trump’s inaction on skyrocketing drug costs and his efforts to sabotage the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation’s work to lower costs across the health care system by delaying and canceling its pilot programs for bundle payments that encourage providers to keep costs down and deliver the best results for patients.

 

Senator Murray called on Republicans to come back to the table and work with Democrats on bipartisan legislation to lower costs and repair some of the damage of President Trump’s sabotage. She also highlighted the importance of increased cost transparency, innovative payment models like those provided for in the Affordable Care Act, and efforts like Washington state’s Medicaid Transformation program which is pioneering innovative programs to deliver higher quality care at lower costs.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“…People aren’t just concerned about the cost of a surprise bill from providers who are out of network—they are concerned about the skyrocketing price of drugs, and they are concerned about the cost of rising insurance premiums. These are challenges that impact families every single day—and they are challenges President Trump promised time and time again to address on the campaign trail.”

 

“Unfortunately, it’s difficult to imagine what else President Trump could possibly be doing to make these challenges worse…He tried again and again to jam his awful Trumpcare bill through Congress—and when he couldn’t do that, he chose to create Trumpcare by sabotaging patients’ care in every way he could, including: doing just about everything possible to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, slashing investments in helping people get care and shortening enrollment windows, making it easier for insurers to sell junk plans, championing tax cuts for massive corporations paid for by policies that his own former health secretary said would raise premiums, and more.”

 

“And he has also sabotaged innovative efforts at lowering costs across the health care system. Instead of supporting sensible programs to bundle payments that encourage providers to keep costs down and deliver the best results for patients—President Trump delayed these programs and ultimately canceled some of them.”

 

“And as I’ve said before, all of this is especially frustrating because it did not have to be this way. I continue to be deeply disappointed Republican leaders refused to support the bipartisan agreement we reached in this committee—which could have lowered premiums for this year and next and helped stabilize markets, and as I’ve said, Chairman Alexander, I am still at the table if and when Republicans are ready to resume negotiations and take much-needed steps to repair as much of the damage President Trump has done as possible.”

 

“I’m also proud that Washington State has helped lead the way with innovative new programs like the Medicaid Transformation Demonstration, which is designed to better coordinate care and help keep patients healthy in the first place. I’m looking forward to discussing these and other targeted approaches to lowering health costs.”

 

Video of Senator Murray’s remarks available HERE.

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

“Before I begin I want to note that I am still deeply concerned about the Administration’s cruel and chaotic policies that have caused thousands of children to be separated from their parents with no apparent plan for reunification.

 

“We had a positive step yesterday with the injunction ordering children to be quickly reunited with their parents.

 

But, no matter how this plays out in the courts, we still need answers about how kids are being cared for, when they will be reunited with their families, what the future holds for those in similar situations going forward—and more. It’s unacceptable—and inexcusable—that we don’t have answers to these straightforward questions yet. Democrats are going to keep pushing the Administration to give us and separated families clear answers

 

“We are here today to discuss how to reduce health care costs—which is something I hear constantly about in my home state. I know other families across the country feel the same way, so I’m very interested in what our witnesses have to say about this issue—thank you all for joining us.

 

“There are far too many stories about patients caught off guard by health care bills higher than they expected and concerned they won’t be able to afford the care they need—patients like LeeAnn Tiede from my home state of Washington.

“After getting treatment for breast cancer—which she checked to be sure her insurance would cover—LeeAnn was surprised to get a bill for nearly $800. Her hospital was in network. Her surgeon was in network. The anesthesiologist wasn’t—so her insurance stuck her with most of the bill. And LeeAnn’s story isn’t unique. Patients in Washington state, and across the country, have also experienced so-called ‘balance billing’ after learning providers were not in their insurance network.

 

“But LeeAnn’s story is only part of the problem. People aren’t just concerned about the cost of a surprise bill from providers who are out of network—they are concerned about the skyrocketing price of drugs, and they are concerned about the cost of rising insurance premiums. These are challenges that impact families every single day—and they are challenges President Trump promised time and time again to address on the campaign trail.

 

“Unfortunately, it’s difficult to imagine what else President Trump could possibly be doing to make these challenges worse. Since day one, he’s not only failed to rein in prescription drug prices, but has brought chaos, uncertainty, and higher costs to health care in this country across the board.

 

“He tried again and again to jam his awful Trumpcare bill through Congress—and when he couldn’t do that, he chose to create Trumpcare by sabotaging patients’ care in every way he could, including: doing just about everything possible to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, slashing investments in helping people get care and shortening enrollment windows, making it easier for insurers to sell junk plans, championing tax cuts for massive corporations paid for by policies that his own former health secretary said would raise premiums, and more.

 

“All of this sabotage has translated—according to independent analysis—to higher costs for so many patients. And this hasn’t just impacted the health care marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. President Trump’s efforts to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions could leave millions of people who are currently uninsured without the ability to afford care they need.

 

“And he has also sabotaged innovative efforts at lowering costs across the health care system. Instead of supporting sensible programs to bundle payments that encourage providers to keep costs down and deliver the best results for patients—President Trump delayed these programs and ultimately canceled some of them.

 

“And he left an important laboratory for experimenting with new, affordable, and high quality models of delivering care—the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation—without a director for a full year. Undermining opportunities to discover new cost-lowering innovations not only jeopardizes bipartisan reforms to contain costs that we secured in 2015, but also perpetuates the premium increases and financial burdens patients are now facing thanks to the President’s health care sabotage.

 

“And as I’ve said before, all of this is especially frustrating because it did not have to be this way. I continue to be deeply disappointed Republican leaders refused to support the bipartisan agreement we reached in this committee—which could have lowered premiums for this year and next and helped stabilize markets, and as I’ve said, Chairman Alexander, I am still at the table if and when Republicans are ready to resume negotiations and take much-needed steps to repair as much of the damage President Trump has done as possible.

 

“Now, as I said, there are a number of ideas that could help bend the curve over the long term that we began to explore in the Affordable Care Act. I mentioned a few earlier—and I’m similarly very interested in how accountable care organizations can reduce costs by rewarding providers for good patient outcomes rather than racking up charges.

 

“I’m also proud that Washington State has helped lead the way with innovative new programs like the Medicaid Transformation Demonstration, which is designed to better coordinate care and help keep patients healthy in the first place. I’m looking forward to discussing these and other targeted approaches to lowering health costs.

 

“But at the same time, I want to be clear that we can’t talk about higher health care costs in our country today without acknowledging the elephant in the room, which is that President Trump has dramatically increased them, and that what’s desperately needed, in the near term, is for Republican leaders to set aside tired, partisan political fights over health care, and allow us to work together on the kinds of policies we were all able to agree on just months ago that could have made such a significant difference for families nationwide who struggle with health care costs.

 

“Democrats have wanted to do this kind of work for years—we got close this past year—and I’m confident we can still succeed if we work across the aisle and put patients and families first. Thank you.”

 

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