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In a Senate health committee hearing, Senator Murray explained how her bipartisan bill would help reduce health care costs for families in Washington state and across the country

Senator Murray also made clear the biggest health care issues still need to be addressed, and called for Republicans to join Democrats to address President Trump sabotaging health care for those that need it most 

Senator Murray: “The bill we are discussing today is an important step in the right direction. It’s also proof that when Republicans join us at the table, put partisanship aside, and put families first, we can find common ground and help the people looking to us for relief on health care.”

Senator Murray: “If we are really going to bring down costs across the board and help families who are struggling, this bill is no place to stop… To put a finer point on it, when your car is totaled, you can’t fix the windshield and expect to start driving.” 

***VIDEO OF OPENING REMARKS AVAILABLE HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, stood up for the millions of families in Washington state and across the country facing high health costs. During a Senate health committee hearing, Senator Murray praised the bipartisan efforts behind her new legislation, the Lower Health Care Costs Act, and called on her colleagues in the Senate to continue working together to tackle even greater health care challenges facing Washingtonians and tens of millions of others across the country. Senator Murray’s bill addresses a variety of issues, including ending surprise billing, access to cheaper generic drugs, vaccine hesitancy, maternal health, and more.

In her opening remarks, Senator Murray emphasized this bill is only a first step, and that far more work is needed— including in this legislation by expanding transparency requirements for drug companies—to help families in Washington state and across the country get the health care they need. Senator Murray also noted the Trump Administration continues to sabotage people’s health care by dismantling protections for people with pre-existing conditions, gutting programs that help people find the right health care plan for them, and arguing in court to strike down health coverage for tens of millions of people. A longtime champion for strengthening health care, Senator Murray called on her Republican colleagues to build on the progress of the Lower Health Care Costs Act by joining Democrats at the negotiation table to work on these issues.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s opening statement:

“I’ve heard from families across Washington state who are struggling to afford health care. And I have been absolutely clear from the start that Democrats are at the table eager to work with Republicans to bring down costs. The bill we are discussing today is an important step in the right direction. It’s also proof that when Republicans join us at the table, put partisanship aside, and put families first, we can find common ground and help the people looking to us for relief on health care...”

“[Stacy from Seattle] wrote to my office about how she got an unexpected ER bill for over a thousand dollars after a bike accident because while the hospital she visited was in-network, one of the doctors who treated her wasn’t. And Stacy shared how her mother has struggled with high health care costs too.  After she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she was forced to move in with Stacy in order to afford her insulin. Families like Stacy’s are looking to us for help, so I’m glad our legislation works to address surprise billing so patients like Stacy will no longer get caught off guard by exorbitant charges for out-of-network care through no fault of their own…”

“Overall, this bill offers a lot of good, bipartisan steps… But I want to be clear— if we are really going to bring down costs across the board and help families who are struggling, this bill is no place to stop. Far from it… Because even as this bill offers families important relief on many issues, this Administration’s policies—and Republican efforts here in Congress—are undermining health care for tens of millions of people across the country… To put a finer point on it, when your car is totaled, you can’t fix the windshield and expect to start driving.”

Watch Senator Murray’s full opening statement HERE.

Full text of Senator Murray’s opening statement:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you to our witnesses for joining us today.

“I’ve heard from families across Washington state who are struggling to afford health care.

“And I have been absolutely clear from the start that Democrats are at the table eager to work with Republicans to bring down costs.

“The bill we are discussing today is an important step in the right direction.

“It’s also proof that when Republicans join us at the table, put partisanship aside, and put families first, we can find common ground and help the people looking to us for relief on health care...

“People like Stacy from Seattle, who wrote to my office about how she got an unexpected ER bill for over a thousand dollars after a bike accident because while the hospital she visited was in-network, one of the doctors who treated her wasn’t.

“And Stacy shared how her mother has struggled with high health care costs too.

“After she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she was forced to move in with Stacy in order to afford her insulin.

“Families like Stacy’s are looking to us for help, so I’m glad our legislation works to address surprise billing so patients like Stacy will no longer get caught off guard by exorbitant charges for out-of-network care through no fault of their own.

“I’d especially like to thank Senators Hassan, Bennet, Carper, Cassidy, Young, and Murkowski for their work on this issue.

“This bill also works to open the doors for a cheaper generic insulin, which could bring down costs for patients like Stacy’s mother, and it would make it harder for drug companies to game the system, and put up roadblocks to competition from cheaper generic drugs.

“I’d like to thank Senators Kaine, Shaheen, Smith, Casey, Cassidy, Collins, Enzi, Roberts, and so many others for working together on so many of these ideas.

“And those are just a few of the many common sense steps we were able to come together on.

“Thanks to the work of Senator Peters, Senator Duckworth, and Senator Roberts, this bill includes a strong response to the threat of vaccine hesitancy and supports efforts to counter misinformation and increase vaccination rates in communities at risk of outbreaks.

“It includes investments in public health data systems pushed for by Senators Kaine, King, and Isakson to better protect families against public health threats and would ensure state, local, and tribal health departments have important guidance on obesity prevention efforts, thanks to Senators Jones and Scott.

“It includes a proposal from Senators Schatz, Kaine, and Murkowski to help expand the ECHO telemedicine model—which we heard about in our hearings on the opioid crisis—so it can be used to bring care to even more people, in even more places, and help address even more health care needs.

“It includes proposals to update electronic health records to make health data more accessible for providers and patients alike.

“And it would take another much-needed step to respond to our country’s maternal mortality crisis, including supporting investments in care for pregnant women, and providing implicit bias training to help address the fact that women of color in particular are dying at unacceptably high rates.

“Overall, this bill offers a lot of good, bipartisan steps.

“And, Mr. Chairman, I hope we can continue to improve it in the coming days, by continuing to work on proposals such as Senator Baldwin, Braun, Smith, and Murkowski’s important drug price transparency bill.

“But I want to be clear— if we are really going to bring down costs across the board and help families who are struggling, this bill is no place to stop.

“Far from it.

“Because even as this bill offers families important relief on many issues, this Administration’s policies are undermining health care for tens of millions of people across the country.

“They have rejected Democrats’ efforts to defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and coverage for people nationwide from a partisan lawsuit moving through the courts right now.

“President Trump has allowed insurance companies to go back to selling junk plans that leave people with pre-existing conditions vulnerable, refused to take significant action to curb drug prices despite his campaign promises, and slashed investments in helping people navigate the health care system and get the plans that are right for them.

“To put a finer point on it, when your car is totaled, you can’t fix the windshield and expect to start driving.

“So I am really glad we’ve been able to work together on this legislation, and I’m going to keep making clear it needs to be a first step—not a last one.

“Democrats understand that. Families understand that. And we have a lot of critical work ahead.

“Thank you.” 

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