News Releases

Sen. Murray’s health committee holds second public hearing with Governors on steps to stabilize individual insurance market 

At hearing, Sen. Murray reiterated key priorities: multi-year fix for out-of-pocket cost reductions, maintaining guardrails, & other ideas to shore up markets, such as reinsurance, consumer outreach/assistance

Sen. Murray: “Even if we don’t all agree on the cause, we do agree on the problem itself: families are facing higher premiums and fewer options as a result of uncertainty in our health care system”

ICYMI—Sen. Murray op-ed in WaPo ahead of hearings: How we can find common ground on health care 

***WATCH VIDEO OF SEN. MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, the Senate health committee, joined by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee’s top Democrat, held its second scheduled hearing on bipartisan steps Congress should take to stabilize the individual insurance market with Governors from Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, Tennessee, and Utah. In her opening statement and during questions with the Governors, Sen. Murray highlighted a number of ideas put forth by Democrats to stabilize markets and lower costs for patients and families in the near and long term, including a multi-year fix to ensure out-of-pocket cost reductions, legislation to help with coverage costs for the sickest patients, and proposals on how we prevent “bare counties.”

Once again, Sen. Murray urged her colleagues to focus on areas of common ground, rather than getting bogged down in the extreme ideology that drove the Trumpcare debate, or using these hearings as an opportunity to roll back protections for patients and families.

NOTE: Next week, Sen. Murray and the committee will hear from several state flexibility experts on September 12th and health care stakeholders representing doctors, hospitals, insurers, and patients on September 14th

Key Excerpts from Sen. Murray’s Opening Statement:

“As a starting point, even if we don’t all agree on the cause, we do agree on the problem itself: families are facing higher premiums and fewer options as a result of uncertainty in our health care system. And Democrats have a number of ideas…To give just a few examples, Senator Shaheen introduced a multi-year fix to ensure out-of-pocket cost reductions under the Affordable Care Act aren’t cut off…Senators Kaine and Carper put forward legislation to help with coverage costs for the sickest patients. Senators McCaskill and Schatz have proposals on how we prevent “bare counties” going forward.”

“And it’s not just Democrats in the Senate who are looking at a wide range of ideas to strengthen markets and lower families’ health care costs in the near term. Governors Kasich and Hickenlooper have put forward a plan including many policies that parallel those I’ve mentioned—and their plan should help inform our conversation here in Congress. I was especially pleased the Governors’ plan would maintain protections in current law for patients like those with pre-existing conditions, and women seeking maternity care.”

“Because as I said yesterday, this needs to be a conversation about moving our health care system forward, not backward. It is certainly not an opportunity to roll back protections for patients—or a chance to hand power back over to insurance companies. I hope we can focus on areas of common ground, rather than getting bogged down in the extreme ideology that drove the Trumpcare debate. If we can do this, I believe a bipartisan agreement on health care reform is possible. Certainly not easy—but possible.”

Video of Sen. Murray’s Opening Remarks Available HERE.

Full Excerpts from Sen. Murray’s Opening Statement:

Thank you, Chairman Alexander.

As I said yesterday—after so much partisanship around the future of health care in our country, I’m very glad these hearings give us an opportunity to take a different approach, and hopefully find some common ground.

I appreciate your leadership in starting this conversation, and I’m grateful to all of our colleagues for joining us.

I of course want to thank Governors Baker, Bullock, Haslam, Herbert, and Hickenlooper in particular for taking the time to share your insights.

Governors have added valuable perspective to the health care discussion so far

I’m glad the Committee will have the chance to get your input as we enter this next phase of working to stabilize markets and lower costs for our constituents in the near term.

The truth is, there is actually a lot many Democrats and Republicans agree on when it comes to this specific goal.

As a starting point, even if we don’t all agree on the cause, we do agree on the problem itself: families are facing higher premiums and fewer options as a result of uncertainty in our health care system.

And Democrats have a number of ideas, which I’ll be interested in discussing with all of you today, to address this problem.

To give just a few examples, Senator Shaheen introduced a multi-year fix to ensure out-of-pocket cost reductions under the Affordable Care Act aren’t cut off.

We’ll need long-term stability for this program if we want insurers to stop worrying about uncertainty long enough to actually lower premiums for patients.

Senators Kaine and Carper put forward legislation to help with coverage costs for the sickest patients. Senators McCaskill and Schatz have proposals on how we prevent “bare counties” going forward.

Many of us are also interested in ensuring open enrollment is as effective as possible this year given the President’s decision to slash efforts to help more people get covered.

And it’s not just Democrats in the Senate who are looking at a wide range of ideas to strengthen markets and lower families’ health care costs in the near term.

Governors Kasich and Hickenlooper have put forward a plan including many policies that parallel those I’ve mentioned—and their plan should help inform our conversation here in Congress.

I was especially pleased the Governors’ plan would maintain protections in current law for patients like those with pre-existing conditions, and women seeking maternity care.

Because as I said yesterday, this needs to be a conversation about moving our health care system forward, not backward.

It is certainly not an opportunity to roll back protections for patients—or a chance to hand power back over to insurance companies.

I hope we can focus on areas of common ground, rather than getting bogged down in the extreme ideology that drove the Trumpcare debate.

If we can do this, I believe a bipartisan agreement on health care reform is possible. Certainly not easy—but possible.

And I am very hopeful we’ll not only succeed, but be able to build on the near-term steps to tackle larger challenges families continue to face in getting the care they need.

I want to thank Chairman Alexander, our colleagues, and each of the governors here today again for being here.

I’m looking forward to our discussion and continued work together.