WASHINGTON – During a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) lambasted HELP Committee Republicans for refusing to schedule any hearings on Trumpcare. Last week, Murphy and all other HELP Committee Democrats called on the HELP Committee’s Republican leadership to dedicate today’s scheduled hearing on how Trumpcare would affect patients and families across the country, rather than user fees administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. HELP Republican leadership ignored their request. Click here to view video of Murphy’s remarks.
Murphy recently led 17 senators in demanding Senate Republican leadership conduct an equally transparent and thorough deliberative process on Trumpcare as was conducted in drafting and passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009. He also laid out the facts of Trumpcare with a PowerPoint presentation, and has repeatedly called on Congressional Republicans to stop their crusade to repeal the ACA and to work in a bipartisan way to improve the law.
Full text of Murphy’s remarks are below:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
“I just think it’s outrageous that we’re holding this hearing today, instead of talking about what is actually happening in this building right now. An effort to rewrite the rules that concern one-sixth of this country’s economy. An effort to jam down the throats of the House and the Senate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the most massive change in American health care in our entire lifetime. And we aren’t talking about in the health committee.
“We’re the health committee. We’re charged with overseeing the American health care system, and we are acting as if this isn’t happening. I mean, PDUFA, MDUFA – I understand they’re important. But I’m just going to tell you the people that are sitting in this audience today, they’re not representing uninsured Americans. They’re representing the industry, by and large. They’re representing the million- and billion-dollar companies that have a lot at stake in this legislation.
“We’re the health committee and I don’t know what the relevance of sitting on this committee is if we have nothing to do or say about a piece of legislation that is going to dramatically alter the landscape of American health care for our constituents. We’ve heard about what the health committee has done in the past, and so I won’t regurgitate those numbers, but I watched those hearings. I was proud to watch those hearings.
“In the HELP Committee, there were 300 amendments that were considered in developing the ACA. There were 160 Republican amendments that were accepted as part of that legislation. Republicans didn’t vote for it in the end, but this committee had the chance to weigh in. The American people got to see, over the course of a year, an actual debate playout.
“And though Republicans eviscerated Democrats for “ramming” that bill through, let’s be honest about why we are not having a hearing here today. It’s because my Republicans colleagues didn’t learn a lesson of a bill being rammed through a process. They actually think that process took too long. So the reason that this bill is being jammed through on an extraordinary timeframe is because the lesson they learned from the ACA is that there was too much debate. And so they want less debate so nobody can see what’s in the bill.
“I get that we can make your job easier and see more transformation drugs to market. But if people don’t have insurance to afford these drugs, then nothing we do here in the reform of these user fee agreements matters. Twenty-four million people are about to lose their healthcare. That is the entire population of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
“This isn’t a minor adjustment of the number of people who have access to the drugs we’re talking about today. This is a humanitarian catastrophe that is about to happen. And we are pretending like the debate doesn’t exist. I asked to be on this committee because I wanted to be at the center of the most important debates about the future of the American healthcare system.
“But it is possible that next week in the U.S. Senate, we are going to be asked in a handful of hours to vote up or down on a bill that is going to dramatically change the reality of healthcare for consumers all across this country. Driving rates up for millions of people, especially older Americans. Taking healthcare away from millions of Americans. Passing on enormous tax breaks to the drug industries that we are talking about here today to health care insurance companies. And this committee will have nothing to say about it.
“I don’t have any questions for the witnesses."