Menendez, Booker Join Entire Democratic Caucus to Call on GOP Senate Leadership to Drop Repeal Efforts, Work in Bipartisan Way to Improve America’s Healthcare System

Menendez, Booker Join Entire Democratic Caucus to Call on GOP Senate Leadership to Drop Repeal Efforts, Work in Bipartisan Way to Improve America’s Healthcare System

House GOP passed bill would increase costs, reduce care for millions


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee which sets national health policy, and Cory Booker today joined all 48 Senate Democrats in urging 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.

 

“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,” the senators wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the chairmen of both the Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees.

 

The Democrats’ letter identifies six broad principles for reform for which there should be bipartisan support including: reducing premiums and out-of-pocket costs without cutting the quality of coverage; making it easier and more affordable for struggling families and small business to get coverage; reigning in prescription drug cost; and stabilizing the insurance market.

 

In addition to raising costs and decreasing care, the House bill eliminates hundreds of billions from state Medicaid programs, while diminishing consumer protections for those with pre-existing conditions, women, and more.  The current administration has also been working to destabilize 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.

 

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 text of the senators’ 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.

 

Sincerely,

 

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