News Releases

In new letter To Leader McConnell & Chairmen of the Senate HELP and Finance committees, Senators Murray, Schumer & Wyden formally request the additional time before a vote on health care legislation be used to hold public hearings so Senators can hear the impact of the bill directly from the experts – Dems also urge GOP leaders to not hold vote without a complete CBO score of bill’s impact on coverage, premiums, out-of-pocket costs and deficit

Sen. Murray, Dems include statements of concern from a number of key stakeholders -- such as the American Cancer Society and American Lung Assoc. as well as American Hospital Assoc. and major insurers – and urge the GOP leaders to invite these groups to public hearings so they can present Senators with their feedback in an unfiltered and unbiased manner

Sen. Murray, Dems to GOP leaders: hold public hearings so Senators can hear directly from experts about impact of latest Trumpcare bill

(Washington, D.C.) –  With a vote on the Senate Republican health care bill delayed at least a week, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a new letter today to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Chairman of the Senate HELP and Finance Committees Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) formally requesting that the Republican Leaders use the additional time to hold public hearings with key stakeholders and experts on the latest version of the Senate Republican’s health care legislation. Specifically, the Senate Democrats are urging the Republican leaders to invite patient advocacy groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, provider organizations such as the American Hospital Association, physician groups such as the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, and the major insurer groups America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association that have already expressed concern with the revised legislation, so Senators have the opportunity to carefully examine the policies in the bill and hear directly from the experts how it will affect their states and the various types of constituents they represent.

Additionally, the Senators requested that Republican leaders commit to not proceed to the legislation without a complete score from the Congressional Budget Office, including an estimate of the bill’s impact on coverage, premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and the federal deficit.

The full text of the Senate Democrats’ letter can be found below:

Dear Leader McConnell, Chairman Alexander and Chairman Hatch:

Given your decision to delay the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, we request that you use this additional time to hold public hearings so that Senators can invite impartial experts, including patients, to testify on the policies in the bill, especially the radically conservative Cruz/Lee proposal released to the public only five days ago. This will allow members to hear unfiltered and unbiased analysis of how the bill will affect their states and the health and financial security of the constituents they represent, including the impact of Medicaid cuts to vulnerable populations like children, people with disabilities, and people with pre-existing conditions. 

In addition to expert testimony, we request that you commit not to proceed to the bill without a complete score from the Congressional Budget Office, including an estimate of the bill’s impact on coverage, premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and the federal deficit. The latest version of the bill includes proposals that would vastly change the regulatory landscape of the commercial insurance market and erode consumer protections that exist today. 

Below are statements from stakeholders that provided feedback on and had significant concerns with the most recent version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act. This includes patient advocacy groups such as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, provider organizations such as the American Hospital Association, physician groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, and major insurer groups like America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

We request that you draw from this list of stakeholders and invite them to provide testimony in a public hearing this week.

Sincerely,

Senator Charles E. Schumer

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Ron Wyden

 

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network President Chris Hansen:

“The latest proposed changes to the Senate health care bill would make access to health coverage worse for those with pre-existing conditions like cancer. The reluctance by senators to include patient feedback and other relevant stakeholder perspectives in the process is preventing the development of a reasonable, bipartisan consensus that could improve the law and pass the Senate. This bill would leave patients and those with pre-existing conditions paying more for less coverage and would substantially erode the progress our nation has been trying to make in providing affordable, adequate and meaningful coverage to all Americans.” [Press Release,7/13/17]

American Lung Association President Harold Wimmer: 

“The American Lung Association is very disappointed to see that the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act does not address the major concerns about quality and affordable healthcare previously outlined by the American Lung Association and therefore, our organization must still oppose this bill. The legislation would still make devastating cuts to Medicaid, which will harm many patients living with a lung disease. It would also still result in removing key patient protections, including for patients with pre-existing conditions. The American Lung Association is particularly troubled by the Cruz Amendment, which would result in higher, not lower, premiums for people with serious and chronic conditions.  The American Lung Association has long stated that any healthcare legislation must be adequate, affordable and accessible. This bill still fails to meet this standard. The American Lung Association urges Senators to vote no on both the motion to proceed and the underlying bill. Instead, the Senate should start over with a bipartisan process aimed at improving healthcare for all Americans.” [Press Release, 7/13/17]

American Hospital Association President Rick Pollack:

“If enacted, BCRA would mean real consequences for real people – among them people with chronic conditions such as cancer, individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support, and the elderly.” [Press Release, 7/13/17

AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond:

“This bill may have changed but the results are the same:  higher costs and less coverage for older Americans. We urge the Senate to vote ‘NO’ and start from scratch on a new health bill that lowers costs and maintains vital protections and coverage that millions of Americans count on. AARP reiterates our opposition to the Age Tax which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more than everyone else for the same coverage while reducing tax credits that help make insurance affordable, and we strongly oppose increasing costs for people with pre-existing conditions.” [Press Release, 7/13/17

AHIP & Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

It is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market. [Letter, 7/14/17]

Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP)

As we have stated before, Medicaid provides critical health coverage for more than 74 million low-income, aged, blind and disabled Americans, 20 million of whom receive services through ACAP-member Safety Net Health Plans. The BCRA’s erosion of the Medicaid expansion, underfunded per capita allotments, and failure to protect the integrity of actuarially-sound rate-setting practices underpinning Medicaid managed care will cause irrevocable harm to millions of poor, aged and disabled Americans on Medicaid.

“On the Marketplace side, the revised bill does little to ensure truly comprehensive, affordable coverage is available to all Americans. We remain concerned that a 6-month waiting period will do little to replace the individual mandate and may lead to a death spiral. Additionally, we are concerned that the individual market would be further destabilized and segmented by allowing plans to sell inadequate coverage that will not truly protect enrollees in the case of unexpected medical bills. [Press Release, 7/13/17]

Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD:  

“The changes do nothing to address provisions that would cripple Medicaid and put added financial pressure on state budgets and health care providers. Additionally, allowing insurers to sell plans without meaningful coverage will hurt those with preexisting conditions and further destabilize insurance markets.” [Press Release, 7/13/17]

University of Virginia Public Policy Professor Christopher Ruhm:

“From everything I can see, this would be a huge step backward,” said Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia. “It would increase the number of uninsured, particularly people with pre-existing conditions.” [LA Times, 7/14/17]

Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker:

Today’s release of the updated Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) confirms what we already knew: this broken bill can’t be fixed. This tweaked BCRA still ends Medicaid as we know it, and it still yanks health coverage out from under millions of Americans, including older adults, people with disabilities, and those with pre-existing conditions.” [Press Release, 7/13/17]

American Medical Association President David O. Barbe, MD:

“The revised bill does not address the key concerns of physicians and patients regarding proposed Medicaid cuts and inadequate subsidies that will result in millions of Americans losing health insurance coverage.” [Press Release, 7/14/17]

American Society of Clinical Oncology President Bruce Johnson, MD, FASCO: 

“As cancer care providers, we are especially concerned with provisions that would erode critical protections for patients with cancer by allowing insurers to sell products that do not meet their needs, including coverage for essential screening services. Additionally, a six-month waiting period for those that fail to obtain continuous coverage could leave many cancer patients and survivors without access to needed care.” [Letter, 7/13/17]

American Psychological Association President Antonio E. Puente, PhD:

“While the new bill would add $45 billion over nine years in grant funding for states to combat the opioid epidemic, that sum is woefully inadequate, Puente said. “Not only is the amount insufficient to meet the need, a grant program is no substitute for reliable Medicaid or other insurance coverage.” Puente said. “The $45 billion is extremely inadequate compared to the deep cuts this bill would have on people’s access to treatment services.” [Statement, 7/13/17]

Catholic Health Association of the United States:

“Additionally, this bill will harm older Americans who will face significantly higher costs through age rating and undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing insurance companies to waive essential health benefits and make coverage for pre-existing conditions unaffordable.” [Press Release, 7/13/17

HEAL Trafficking Executive Director Hanni Stoklosa, MD, MPH & President of the Board of Directors Susie Baldwin, MD, MPH, FACPM:

“Medicaid is life-saving for victims of trafficking. Trafficking victims need medical care to treat ailments including opioid addiction, PTSD, HIV and other STDs, malnutrition, broken bones, pregnancy, untreated chronic disease, psychiatric illness, and disability from injuries. Medicaid pays for treatment for all of these conditions, all of which greatly impact health and quality of life. Without the services Medicaid provides, many victims will be unable to heal from their trauma and live healthy and productive lives…We as HEAL Trafficking oppose the BRCA, the AHCA, or any attempt to rollback or curtail the Affordable Care Act. Cutting Medicaid hurts human trafficking victims, plain and simple.” [Letter, 7/13/17]

America’s Essential Hospitals President Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH:

“Making a bad bill worse, the Senate added measures that would destabilize the private market by creating a two-tiered system that funnels the sick and others most in need of affordable coverage into the highest-cost plans.” [Press Release, 7/13/17]

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards:

“With this latest version of Trumpcare, Americans will pay more and get less, but women will pay the biggest price of all. This is, hands down, the worst bill for women in a generation, especially for low-income women and women of color. Slashing Medicaid, cutting maternity coverage, and blocking millions from getting preventive care at Planned Parenthood would result in more undetected cancers and more unintended pregnancies. And it puts moms and their babies at risk. Now is the time for every person who cares about women’s health and access to affordable, quality care to speak out and join this fight.” [Press Release, 7/13/17]  

American Public Health Association executive director Georges Benjamin, MD

"The revised Senate plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is still irresponsible policy. Millions would lose insurance coverage, the sickest could still be denied access to critically needed care and far too many would pay even more for fewer benefits, creating an expanded class of underinsured. The bill, like previous versions, guts essential investments in public health by eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund...We all can agree that affordable, accessible health care is a right, not a privilege. Any legislation coming out of Congress should reflect that fact and avoid a public health catastrophe." [Press Release, 7/14/17]