Click here to view video of Murphy’s remarks.
WASHINGTON – During a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee markup of the Lower Health Care Costs Act, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment to the Murray-Alexander compromise package to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire for their continued efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and our health care system. The Lower Health Care Costs Act passed through Committee today by a 20-3 vote, and included the Mental Health Parity Compliance Actchampioned by Murphy and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Their legislation would improve transparency and accountability to help ensure consumers have access to mental health and substance use services included in their plans
Murphy’s amendment to the Lower Health Care Costs Act would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report on the number of people by state who would be impacted should the State of Texas prevail in Texas v. United States. Murphy’s amendment failed to receive a single Republican vote and was voted down 12-11.
Last year, 18 state attorneys general, led by Texas, sued the federal government arguing that the ACA is unconstitutional. The Trump administration took the unprecedented step to side with the partisan lawsuit. On July 9, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the Texas v. United Statescase. It’s important lawmakers and state governments brace for impact should this lawsuit prevail and the ACA is repealed.
“As grateful as I am for the important provisions that are in this bill, I do feel a little bit as if we are applying as a government, a bandage to a cut on one arm while we are sawing off the patient’s other arm,” Murphy said during the hearing. “The reality is, in two weeks, this administration will go to court to ask for the entirety of the Affordable Care Act to be struck down. That is a humanitarian catastrophe in this country if it occurs. It means 20 million plus individuals lose healthcare overnight and everybody who is sick has to pay more.”
Murphy continued, “The amendment that I am offering would simply ask for the administration to tell us, if this lawsuit is successful, how many people are going to lose coverage? How many people with pre-existing conditions are at risk of having their rates increased? How many people may see lifetime limits come back? If we all sit around assuming that we are going to be saved by the court system and then come to find out that all of a sudden insurance is wiped out for 20 million Americans with nothing to come behind it, you know I think that’s a fate that we don’t want to have to endure.”
Specially, the amendment would require HHS to report on the number of people impacted if the administration prevails in the ACA lawsuit. The report shall include the number of people who would lose,
- Pre-existing condition protections known as “community rating” and “guaranteed issue”;
- Lose lifetime and annual limits on coverage;
- Premiums protections related to age and gender;
- Comprehensive health insurance offered on the individual market;
- Comprehensive health insurance offered through the Small Business Health Options Program;
- Medicaid coverage through the expansion;
- Essential health benefits, including specifically mental health benefits, free annual wellness visits, emergency services, prescription drugs, maternity care, and pediatric services; and
- Under 26 who would be kicked of their parent’s insurance plan.