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Senator Murray, Senators today spoke on urgent need to pass bipartisan bill to lower families’ health care costs, stabilize markets 

Senator Murray highlighted record breaking health care sign-ups: “People are going online to shop for coverage” despite President Trump’s insistence that health care is going to implode 

Senator Murray: If Republicans leaders haven’t gotten the message to finally reject Trumpcare, voters in VA & ME “made it perfectly clear last night that they reject the deeply harmful partisanship we’ve seen on health care.”

Senator Murray: “There is no good reason for Republican leadership to wait another minute before bringing our bill up for a vote”

(Washington, D.C.) Led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, today a bipartisan group of Senators called again on Republican leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on the Murray-Alexander health care legislation that would stabilize health care and lower health care costs for patients and families in Washington state and nationwide.  

Open enrollment started on November 1st with record sign-ups across the country, despite President Trump’s decision to pull funding for open enrollment and outreach activities and repeated attempts to sabotage the individual insurance market. In addition to highlighting the millions of people getting covered during the first week of the open enrollment period, in her floor speech Senator Murray slammed Republican leadership for their refusal to allow a vote on the Murray-Alexander bill, which has the support of 60 Senators and growing, endorsement of more than 200 groups representing doctors, hospitals, state officials, governors, and patients, and a CBO score showing it would lower patients’ health care costs this coming year, bring down premiums the following year, and return $3.8 billion to taxpayers.

Senator Murray and Senate health committee chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have worked together for months on their bipartisan plan to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs, stabilize markets, and help stop President Trump’s sabotage. Last September the Senate health committee held multiple hearings with state insurance commissioners, including Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, governors, doctors, patients, and other medical professionals to hear their ideas on how we can make care better. Prior to the hearings, since January Senator Murray has traveled throughout Washington state and met with countless patients, doctors and medical providers to learn more about the challenges they face affording quality care.

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s floor speech:

“We are now exactly one week into open enrollment, and it’s been three weeks since Chairman Alexander and I put forward a bipartisan bill to stabilize our health care markets and lower patients’ health care costs…there is no good reason for Republican leadership to wait another minute before bringing our bill up for a vote.”

“Let’s remember that when someone goes to sign up for health care coverage, they aren’t doing it as a Republican or a Democrat—they’re doing it as a parent, or a caregiver, or a business owner, who wants to stay healthy and financially secure. Here in Washington, D.C., health care has become bogged down in politics—but in cities and towns across our country, it is about taking care of yourself and your loved ones.”

“If Republican leadership takes up our legislation now and passes it—families would see rebates this year and lower health care costs next year—because our bill is designed to ensure the benefit of greater certainty is passed on to patients and taxpayers, not hoarded by insurance companies…this legislation would send a critical message to patients and families that when Congress sets aside partisan differences and focuses on what’s best for the country, we can deliver a result, as Chairman Alexander often says.”

“So, right now—it’s up to Republican leaders. They can choose to stay in their partisan corner and reject an opportunity to lower patients’ health care costs in a bipartisan way—or they can do what people across the country want them to do—and put patients over politics.”

“And I do want to note, M. President—that if Republican leaders hadn’t gotten the message—voters made it perfectly clear last night that they reject the deeply harmful partisanship we’ve seen on health care. So it’s well past time for Republican leaders to give up the ghost on Trumpcare, declare it dead, and work with Democrats on real solutions—starting with our bipartisan bill to lower health care costs and stabilize markets—because if they don’t they can be sure they’ll be held accountable.”

Full remarks by Senator Murray, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, M. President.

First—I really appreciate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their leadership on our legislation and for taking the time to speak today.

We are now exactly one week into open enrollment, and it’s been three weeks since Chairman Alexander and I put forward a bipartisan bill to stabilize our health care markets and lower patients’ health care costs.

So I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss what it means that so many people nationwide are signing up for coverage…

And why there is no good reason for Republican leadership to wait another minute before bringing our bill up for a vote.

M. President, it’s still early, but what we’re seeing so far is that millions of people across the country are going to healthcare.gov to shop for coverage.

Two hundred thousand signed up on the first day. That’s more than double the amount from last year.

The vast majority will get tax credits to help cover their costs—and in fact, some who are struggling the most will find they can save even more this year because of how our current health care system absorbs cost increases.

But M. President, there is no question that premiums are going up—and that in many places, fewer coverage options are available—and not every consumer is protected.

As one woman, Melissa, told the Washington Post this week, she is “joining the ranks of the uninsured” for the first time in her life as a 51 year old.

She said she doesn’t qualify for subsidies, and given how much her premiums would increase, her insurance costs would have been more than her mortgage payments each month.

Melissa is one of the people paying the price for President Trump’s health care sabotage, and Republican leadership’s willingness to cheer him along.

M. President, it’s unacceptable that patients and families are having to take on this burden.

Let’s remember that when someone goes to sign up for health care coverage, they aren’t doing it as a Republican or a Democrat—they’re doing it as a parent, or a caregiver, or a business owner, who wants to stay healthy and financially secure.

Here in Washington, D.C., health care has become bogged down in politics—but in cities and towns across our country, it is about taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

That’s why so many people are going online to shop for coverage—despite the President’s insistence that health care in the United States was going to “implode”…

Regardless of the fact that to make “implosion” a reality, President Trump—among many other efforts at sabotage—shortened the enrollment period  this year and gutted investments in advertising and outreach…

And caused premiums to increase by double digits on average.

Frankly, patients and families deserve much better.

M. President, as I’ve said before, the frustrating thing is that this all could have been avoided.

Way back in September, Chairman Alexander and I were on the verge of an agreement to stabilize health care markets and lower premiums for this coming year and 2019.

Our agreement would have provided multi-year certainty on the out-of-pocket cost reduction subsidies that President Trump decided to stop paying—even though the law says he is required to do so.

Had we been able to move faster, our legislation would have resulted in lower premiums right away for 2018.

But Republican leaders pressed the pause button on bipartisan negotiations so they could try one more time to jam partisan repeal through the Senate.

And we lost a lot of precious time.  But M. President, our bill would still do a lot of good right now and over the next few years.

If Republican leadership takes up our legislation now and passes it—families would see rebates this year and lower health care costs next year.

Because our bill is designed to ensure the benefit of greater certainty is passed on to patients and taxpayers, not hoarded by insurance companies.

Our deal would also invest in open enrollment and outreach for 2019 to get more people covered.

It would allow states more flexibility to innovate as the Affordable Care Act always intended.

And, it would mark a critical step away from harmful partisanship on health care and toward working, under regular order, on solutions that make health care work better for the people we serve.

Finally, M. President, this legislation would send a critical message to patients and families that when Congress sets aside partisan differences and focuses on what’s best for the country, we can deliver a result, as Chairman Alexander often says.

More than 200 groups representing doctors, hospitals, state officials, governors, and patients have endorsed our bill.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it would do exactly what it was intended to do—stabilize markets and bring down health care costs—while returning $3.8 billion to taxpayers.

Twelve Senate Democrats and twelve Senate Republicans cosponsored it.

We are continuing to build support and there is no question it would pass with a filibuster-proof majority if it was brought to the floor.

And—while the Senate shouldn’t need President Trump’s signoff to take a position on ways to fix the nation’s health care system—the President has supported this process moving forward.

So, right now—it’s up to Republican leaders.

They can choose to stay in their partisan corner and reject an opportunity to lower patients’ health care costs in a bipartisan way—or they can do what people across the country want them to do—and put patients over politics.

And I do want to note, M. President—that if Republican leaders hadn’t gotten the message—voters made it perfectly clear last night that they reject the deeply harmful partisanship we’ve seen on health care.

So it’s well past time for Republican leaders to give up the ghost on Trumpcare—declare it dead—and work with Democrats on real solutions…

Starting with our bipartisan bill to lower health care costs and stabilize markets—because if they don’t they can be sure they’ll be held accountable.

Thank you and I yield the floor.