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Sen. Murray joins Sen. Alexander in announcing bipartisan group of first round of cosponsors: 12 Republicans & 12 Democrats

Sen. Murray in speech: “We’re able today to put forward an answer: a bipartisan solution that prevents families from paying the price for sabotage and uncertainty”

***WATCH SEN. MURRAY’S REMARKS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, joined the committee’s chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on the Senate floor to announce a bipartisan list of co-sponsors and discuss some of the details of their bipartisan plan to lower increasing insurance premiums and improve quality of care for patients and families in Washington state and across the country. Senators Murray and Alexander have been working for months on a plan to stabilize the individual insurance market in an effort to prevent premium spikes as a result of President Trump’s sabotage, and last month held multiple hearings with governors, state insurance commissioners, doctors, medical professionals and experts to help craft legislation to lower costs while defending critical protections for consumers. 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.

In addition to Senators Murray and Alexander, the bill is sponsored by: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

The bill language is here. A section-by-section summary is here.

Watch video of Sen. Murray’s floor speech HERE.

Key excerpts of Sen. Murray’s floor speech:

“After seven years of intense partisanship on these issues—which would lead you to believe there was absolutely no hope for Republicans and  Democrats to come together and work to strengthen our health care system—I’m very pleased with the common ground we’ve been able to find around: providing multiple years of certainty when it comes to payments to reduce out-of-pocket costs, restoring critical investments in making sure people know about open enrollment and can get covered, offering states more flexibility to innovate as the Affordable Care Act intended—while maintaining essential health benefits like maternity care, and protecting people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly.”

“Here’s what’s really at stake: patients and families across the country are looking ahead to next year and they are realizing they are about to pay the price for the uncertainty and partisanship we’ve seen—especially from the Trump Administration—on health care over the last nine months. To many families, the out-of-pocket cost reduction payments we’re debating here in Congress have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with whether they’ll be able to make ends meet at the end of the month.”

“Now—the law is very clear that these payments are required—but with the President’ s decision to stop them—families are looking to Congress and this Administration and asking what we plan to do. So I am glad that both Democrats and Republicans agreed that we needed to act—and that we could do much better working together, under regular order, than doubling down on partisanship and dysfunction.

“We’re able today to put forward an answer: a bipartisan solution that prevents families from paying the price for sabotage and uncertainty. One that members on both sides of the aisle can be proud to support—starting with the list of original cosponsors we are unveiling today. Not only because it will help protect families from premium spikes that are set to kick in next year, but because it sends a powerful message that when members of Congress decide to get past the talking points and take just a few steps out of partisan corners, there’s really a lot we can agree on—and a lot we can get done.”

Full text of Sen. Murray’s floor speech:

Thank you, Chairman Alexander.

And thank you again for all your leadership in launching this bipartisan process, as well as your dedication to seeing it through and getting a “result,” as you say. 

I have to say that after seven years of intense partisanship on these issues—which would lead you to believe there was absolutely no hope for Republicans and  Democrats to come together and work to strengthen our health care system…

I’m very pleased with the common ground we’ve been able to find around: providing multiple years of certainty when it comes to payments to reduce out-of-pocket costs, restoring critical investments in making sure people know about open enrollment and can get covered, offering states more flexibility to innovate as the Affordable Care Act intended—while maintaining essential health benefits like maternity care, and protecting people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly…

It does all this while making sure that costs go down for families and preventing insurers from ‘double dipping’ and getting the benefit of both cost reduction payments AND higher premiums.

And if there are ways to do even more to make sure patients come first and insurers can’t pad their profits I’m certainly open to those.

Now, Chairman Alexander has laid out the policies that we are putting forward in this legislation—so I won’t go into any further detail…

But I do want to take a few minutes to focus on what this legislation would mean for the people we are all here to serve.

Because here’s what’s really at stake: patients and families across the country are looking ahead to next year…

And they are realizing they are about to pay the price for the uncertainty and partisanship we’ve seen—especially from the Trump Administration—on health care over the last nine months.

To many families, the out-of-pocket cost reduction payments we’re debating here in Congress have nothing to do with politics…

And everything to do with whether they’ll be able to make ends meet at the end of the month.

Now—the law is very clear that these payments are required—but with the President’ s decision to stop them…

Families are looking to Congress and this Administration and asking what we plan to do.

So I am glad that both Democrats and Republicans agreed that we needed to act—and that we could do much better working together, under regular order, than doubling down on partisanship and dysfunction.

As a result of the hard work of Chairman Alexander and members of our health committee, and with the input of half the Senate…

We’re able today to put forward an answer: a bipartisan solution that prevents families from paying the price for sabotage and uncertainty…

One that members on both sides of the aisle can be proud to support—starting with the list of original cosponsors we are unveiling today.

The twelve Democrats are Senators Murray, King, Shaheen, Donnelly, Klobuchar, Heitkamp, Franken, Manchin, Carper, Baldwin, McCaskill, and Hassan.

We are doing this today not only because it will help protect families from premium spikes that are set to kick in next year…

But because it sends a powerful message that when members of Congress decide to get past the talking points and take just a few steps out of partisan corners…

…There’s really a lot we can agree on—and a lot we can get done.

M. President—Chairman Alexander and I are going to continue making the case for our agreement.

We’ve already gotten a promising response from many members on both sides of the aisle, and I’m so appreciative of Senator Schumer for his strong support as well.

And I’m optimistic that, with Chairman Alexander working on this—we’ll continue to build momentum—and we will get this done.

Because at the end of the day—this isn’t about Republicans or Democrats.

It’s about doing the right thing for the people we serve.

And that means having an answer to the premium spikes that are going to set in and burden families next year.

We’ve been able to find one—it’s bipartisan—and I hope all of our colleagues will join us in making sure it gets signed into law.

And show the American public we can get the job done for them and we understand the priorities of this country.

Thank you, M. President.