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At Senate hearing on health costs, Senator Murray stressed that Congress should work to reduce administrative costs while assuring safety and quality for patients

Senator Murray slammed Trump Administration move to expand access to junk insurance plans, which undermine basic patient protections, noting that most common plans spend about half of their revenue on administrative overhead, executive bonuses, and marketing

Senator Murray also highlighted threat to patient protections posed by Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to Supreme Court

Senator Murray: “President Trump wants to make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and reward themselves for it with bigger executive bonuses.”

Senator Murray: With President Trump “efforts to raise health care costs have become par-for-the-course”

***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR MURRAY’S REMARKS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.)  Today at a Senate hearing on high health care costs, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, stressed that reducing federal administrative costs cannot come at the expense of patient safety, patient costs, or quality of care, and condemned President Trump’s recent efforts to sabotage health care and drive up costs. In her remarks, Senator Murray specifically criticized his proposal to expand junk short-term insurance plans, which can ignore basic patient protections for people with pre-existing conditions and restrictions to prevent excessive spending on administrative costs and executive bonuses. Senator Murray also highlighted the threat President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh poses to protections for pre-existing conditions and other vital care, and called for her Republican colleagues to return to the table to work with Democrats on bipartisan solutions to bring down health care costs.

Last October, Senator Murray and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, unveiled the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017, a series of proposals that would have reduced premiums and out-of-pocket costs for patients while stabilizing the individual market to ensure competition and choice for consumers. Republican leaders repeatedly blocked the legislation from coming to the floor and Chairman Alexander has since declared bipartisan negotiations “dead.” While President Trump and his administration have advanced a series of regulations that are contributing to higher premiums and undermine the very protections for patients with pre-existing conditions that he promised to protect as a candidate, Senator Murray has continued urging Republicans to reconsider their harmful health care sabotage and resume negotiations toward solutions that ensure patients’ continued access to affordable, high-quality care.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“I believe there are opportunities here to help reduce health care costs by reducing complexity, while maintaining quality and safety for patients. We know the current administrative system is fragmented, with different federal, state, and private protocols for things like billing, measuring quality of care, and more, so I’m interested to hear from our witnesses about ideas to simplify and align requirements, while maintaining protections that ensure patients are getting safe, quality care and service.”

“Unfortunately, with this Administration’s focus on sabotaging families’ health care, efforts to raise health care costs have become par-for-the-course…He slashed investments to help people understand their health care options and get covered. He pushed a partisan tax cut bill that meant lower rates for massive insurers and drug companies and higher premiums for families. He handed the reins back to insurance companies by looking for ways to make it easier to sell junk insurance that dodges patient protections like those for people with pre-existing conditions, women, and seniors. He abandoned patients in the court of law by having his Justice Department take the highly unusual step of refusing to defend pre-existing condition protections in court.”

“And now many of us are concerned President Trump has nominated a Supreme Court Justice who will strike down health care for millions of Americans. Judge Kavanaugh’s history on health care makes clear he is a serious threat to families’ health care and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, so I hope Republicans will join us in rejecting his nomination, just like they joined us in rejecting Trumpcare when it threatened families across the country last year.”

Watch video of Senator Murray’s remarks HERE.

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.

“I’m glad we are continuing our discussion on health care costs—an issue I know families in Washington state, and across the country, are greatly concerned about as many struggle to afford the care they need.

“And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the way administrative costs fit into this larger picture.

“I believe there are opportunities here to help reduce health care costs by reducing complexity, while maintaining quality and safety for patients. We know the current administrative system is fragmented, with different federal, state, and private protocols for things like billing, measuring quality of care, and more, so I’m interested to hear from our witnesses about ideas to simplify and align requirements, while maintaining protections that ensure patients are getting safe, quality care and service.

“Unfortunately, instead of pursuing policies to address high administrative costs, President Trump is pursuing a path of health care sabotage—including ideas that will make this problem worse.

“In fact, the Trump Administration’s Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing a new sabotage step that will do even more to let insurance companies offer junk plans that not only undermine important protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but also ignore requirements that insurers spend most of their money on patients, not on excessive administrative costs or executive bonuses.

“An analysis from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows the most popular short-term junk plans—like the ones President Trump wants to expand—spend, on average, half of their revenue on things that have nothing to do with customers’ health care needs. In other words—President Trump wants to make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and reward themselves for it with bigger executive bonuses.

“I think we can all agree we should be looking for steps to reduce administrative costs to make health care more affordable—and this idea from President Trump moves us in exactly the wrong direction.

“Unfortunately, with this Administration’s focus on sabotaging families’ health care, efforts to raise health care costs have become par-for-the-course. From day one, President Trump has focused on rolling back families’ health care and protections for pre-existing conditions, even though people across the country have utterly rejected that backwards agenda—like a year ago, when they stood up and spoke out against the mean-spirited Trumpcare bill that tried to spike premiums, gut Medicaid, and put families back at the mercy of the big insurance companies, who could jack up prices for people with pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, those efforts failed.

“So President Trump decided to sabotage health care from the Oval Office instead.

“He dramatically cut investments to help people understand their health care options and get covered. He pushed a partisan tax cut bill that meant lower rates for massive insurers and drug companies and higher premiums for families. He handed the reins back to insurance companies by looking for ways to make it easier to sell junk insurance that dodges patient protections like those for people with pre-existing conditions, women, and seniors. He abandoned patients in the court of law by having his Justice Department take the highly unusual step of refusing to defend pre-existing condition protections in court.

“And now many of us are concerned President Trump has nominated a Supreme Court Justice who will strike down health care for millions of Americans.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s history on health care makes clear he is a serious threat to families’ health care and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, so I hope Republicans will join us in rejecting his nomination, just like they joined us in rejecting Trumpcare when it threatened families across the country last year.

“And I also hope they will come back to the table to work with us on legislation that can bring down health care costs, because I know that’s what families across Washington state are counting on us to do. And I have no doubt patients across the country feel the same way.

“Thank you.”