MURPHY: SECRET GOP HEALTH CARE BILL “A FRAUD” TO END INSURANCE FOR MILLIONS & “HAND ANOTHER BIG TAX BREAK” TO THE WEALTHY

Murphy: HELP “Committee becoming irrelevant as a secret process unfolds to radically change one sixth of the American economy.”

WASHINGTON – During a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on “The Cost of Prescription Drugs: How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay”, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Committee, berated Congressional Republicans for secretly trying to force a health care repeal bill through Congress without hearings, amendments, or debate. Last month, the nonpartisan CBO released an updated analysis of Trumpcare, making clear that the bill would raise costs and worsen care to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthy. Click here to view video of Murphy’s remarks.

“If there is a massive falloff of the number of people who have insurance, then nobody can afford the drugs that we’re talking about here today,” said Murphy. “I think this is a really interesting discussion, but I think it’s totally irrelevant to the most important discussion that’s happening right now, which is not in this committee. It’s not anywhere that the American public can see. It’s behind closed doors where there are a certain number of Republican senators that are perpetuating a fraud on the American public. 

Murphy continued, “It is a fraud to take insurance from middle class folks, folks who might be struggling in this country, so that you can muster up enough money to hand another big tax break to people who do not need it. I hope eventually we can sit down and have a conversation about drug pricing that is meaningful and relevant, but this isn’t. This is just a distraction from what the real story is, which is this committee becoming irrelevant as a secret process unfolds to radically change one sixth of the American economy.”

Earlier this year, Murphy led 17 senators in demanding that Senate Republican leadership conduct an equally transparent and thorough deliberative process on Trumpcare as was conducted in drafting and passing the Affordable Care Act in 2009. The senators contrasted the dozens of bipartisan meetings and hearings, and more than 160 hours of floor debate, with the unprecedented steps that Congressional Republicans are currently taking to force Trumpcare through Congress.

The full text of Murphy’ s remarks is below:

“My apologies to the panel. I’m not going to ask them any questions. I’m not. I think this is a really interesting discussion, but I think it’s totally irrelevant to the most important discussion that’s happening right now, which is not in this committee. It’s not anywhere that the American public can see. It’s behind closed doors where there are a certain number of Republican senators that are perpetuating a fraud on the American public. And they’re not here. I mean, Democrats have been here at this hearing pretty consistently throughout the morning. Republicans have been in and out, but if you want to believe the Republicans are behind closed doors writing a health care bill that’s going to steal insurance from 23 million Americans in order to pass along a tax cut to the richest amongst us, well then this visual is evidence potentially of what’s going on right now.

“And Senator Hassan has it perfect. We can talk all we want about benefit design, but if 23 million Americans lose their access to health insurance, then they can’t afford prescription drugs. So it doesn’t really matter what we do with respect to adjusting the intellectual property laws or trying to differently regulate PBMs. If there is a massive falloff of the number of people who have insurance, then nobody can afford the drugs that we’re talking about here today. 

“And with all due respect to the Chairman – not the Chairman who’s sitting there today, but the Chairman who made opening remarks – what does it matter that the bill was passed in 2009 in the middle of a snowstorm? What does it matter what the weather was outside? There were 25 days of debate in the United States Senate before that bill came up for a vote. The American people had a month to watch the Senate debate that piece of legislation and offer amendments. As the Ranking Member said, that was on top of exhaustive committee processes. It’s just not true that that bill was rammed through. That’s not true. The House and the Senate debated that bill for a year and a half. It was there for the American public to see. 

“And the reason that we are watching this process play out in secret—the reason why no one will see this piece of legislation until it is already passed is because Republicans learned a lesson from 2009 and 2010—that it didn’t accrue to the Democrats benefit to have that process play out over such a long period of time. So that’s why they are going to keep this secret.

“They are going to keep it secret because inside that bill are massive giveaways for their friends. $145 billion of tax breaks for health insurers. $28 billion of tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. $663 billion of tax cuts—almost none of which is going to anyone in this country who makes under $200,000 a year.

“So there is good reason why there are no Republican senators here except for Senator Cassidy. There’s good reason why they are doing this behind closed doors, because it’s a fraud. It is a fraud to take insurance from middle class folks, folks who might be struggling in this country, so that you can muster up enough money to hand another big tax break to people who do not need it. I hope eventually we can sit down and have a conversation about drug pricing that is meaningful and relevant, but this isn’t. This is just a distraction from what the real story is, which is this committee becoming irrelevant as a secret process unfolds to radically change one sixth of the American economy.”

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