Murray, Cantwell, Kreidler Fight to Protect State Patient Safeguards

May 11 2006

Washington State Insurance Commissioner joins Murray, Cantwell, others to protect patients

Washington, DC—Washington state Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell today joined Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler for a press conference on Capitol Hill to voice their opposition to the Bush/Enzi bill that Senate Republicans have made the centerpiece of their “health week.”

Across the country, Governors, Attorneys General, and state elected officials from both parties have risen in bipartisan opposition to this flawed plan to strip away consumer protections safeguarding patients in every state in America. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna have both called for defeat of the Enzi legislation.

These state and local officials have joined a growing chorus of voices, from the American Nurses Association to the American Cancer Society to AARP, speaking out against such dangerous legislation.

“We need real solutions to make healthcare more affordable, accessible and innovative. Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership is wasting time with a flawed bill that will strip away patient protections, hurt many small businesses, and fail to contain costs. We can do better,” Senator Patty Murray said.

“There is bipartisan opposition to the Enzi bill in Washington State,” said Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, “because rather than promoting more affordable health care, this legislation would make it more expensive for one-third of the workers. I appreciate that people are desperate to find a health care proposal they can say 'yes' to. But doing something that makes the problem worse is not the solution.”

“We absolutely need to make sure that small businesses can afford to cover their employees and make it easy for them to do so,” said Cantwell, a member of the Small Business Committee. “I’ve been arguing this for years. But the Enzi/Nelson plan preempts state laws and permits companies to avoid benefit mandates like diabetes education or mental health parity. It is possible to make healthcare coverage more affordable for small businesses without sacrificing important consumer protections. The legislation I’m supporting makes health care affordable while preserving critical consumer protections and benefit packages, something no other proposal that I’ve seen in D.C. seems to be able to do. Our plan helps small businesses pool their purchasing power, drive costs down, and deliver affordable health care to more Americans.”

The Republican Bush/Enzi plan takes health care in this country in the wrong direction, and Democrats believe America can do better. Instead of gutting important state protections for patients, the Durbin/Lincoln plan gives the American people access to the same kind of health coverage options as Members of Congress.