Cantwell, Murray Urge GOP Leadership to Drop Repeal Efforts and Work in Bipartisan Way to Improve America’s Healthcare System

In New Letter, Senate Dems Urge GOP To Work With Them On Reform Efforts That Lower Costs While Ensuring Coverage For People With Pre-Existing Conditions, Those Who Rely On Medicare & Medicaid, Women, And More - Also Urge GOP To Discourage Administration’s Efforts To De-Stabilize Current System

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – In a newly released letter, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) joined the entire Senate Democratic delegation today to urge Senate Republican Leaders to drop current repeal efforts and work in a bipartisan way to reform America’s healthcare system. The Democrats said that the House of Representatives’ recently passed bill was not only rushed through without a CBO score, but the underlying bill could still result in millions of Americans losing health coverage altogether.

In addition to raising costs and decreasing care, the bill also eliminates hundreds of billions from state Medicaid programs, while diminishing consumer protections for those with pre-existing conditions, women, and more. On top of this, the current administration has been working to de-stabilize the current healthcare market so it can point to this as evidence that the system needs replacing; Senate Democrats urged the GOP to discourage these efforts that only hurt Americans and set reform efforts back. Instead, Senate Democrats are urging Republicans and their leadership to drop repeal efforts and come to the table.

All 48 members said they stand ready to reform the current system and work in a bipartisan way to come up with solutions that reduce costs and increase care for millions of Americans.

The version of the Republican bill that passed the House of Representatives last week would have serious consequences in Washington state. An estimate by the state of Washington found that up to 700,000 Washingtonians would be at risk of losing their health care under this legislation.  In addition, the bill could lead to benefit caps for the roughly three million Washingtonians who get health insurance through their employer.

The text of their letter appears below:

Dear Leader McConnell, Chairman Alexander and Chairman Hatch:

We write to request that the Senate work in a bipartisan, open and transparent way to improve and reform the health care system. Democrats stand ready – as we always have -- to develop legislation with Republicans that will improve quality, lower costs, and expand coverage for all Americans. But Republicans need to set aside their current partisan efforts and work with us to get this done.

Last week, the House passed a partisan bill that will dramatically increase the cost of health insurance for those who need it most and lower the quality of coverage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the underlying bill would result in 24 million Americans losing health insurance, while facing increased costs. The House passed bill also eliminates $880 billion from state Medicaid programs and important patient and consumer protections – especially for women and all those with pre-existing conditions.  Finally, the House bill was passed without a final official cost or coverage estimate from CBO and may contain provisions that violate the Senate’s rules regarding the privileged reconciliation process.

We urge you to drop the current partisan effort to repeal and replace health care reform through reconciliation.  We also urge you to discourage the ongoing effort by the Administration to de-stabilize the health care marketplace, which could lead to rising insurance premiums for all and make it harder for families to access health care. If repeal is abandoned, we stand ready to work with you to help all Americans get the affordable health care they need.  Instead of trying to change the House’s “repeal and replace” legislation, which has an uncertain path to the President’s desk, you could instead choose to work with us on a bipartisan health reform package that can garner 60 votes in the Senate and pass the House with Republican and Democratic votes.

Working together to improve health care requires an open and transparent process that includes public hearings, an open amendment process, and ample time for debate in the full Senate. There are a number of issue areas we want to work on with you, including:

·       Reducing the cost of prescription drugs

·       Decreasing the cost of premiums without cutting the quality of benefits

·       Making the cost of care more affordable by reducing out-of-pocket costs

·       Stabilizing and strengthening the insurance market

·       Helping more struggling families get covered

·       Making it easier and less expensive for small businesses to provide health care

We look forward to your response and working with you in a bipartisan process to improve the health care system for all Americans.