Senator Murkowski is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Appropriations Committees.
Health Care Reform:
Senator Murkowski remains committed to ensuring that all Alaskans have access to affordable, quality healthcare. She knew that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would create problems in a state like Alaska. That is why she voted against the law, and has continuously worked to address the provisions in the law that are most harmful to Alaskans. To this day, Senator Murkowski believes health care reform must be addressed due to the continued, dramatic increases in insurance premiums each year and an individual exchanges that has be reduced to only 1 provider, Premera, due to the unsustainable course of the ACA as is. Yet, there are many provisions of the ACA that have worked for Alaska that Senator Murkowski believes should be retained. Those provisions are:
- Prohibitions on the discrimination for pre-existing conditions
- No annual or lifetime limits
- Coverage up to age 26
- Continuation of coverage afforded under Medicaid Expansion
- Maintaining access to Planned Parenthood facilities
Health care reform is a process, while it may have started in the House a lot of work is expected in the Senate. As the health care reform discussion continues Senator Murkowski remains committed to the provisions outlined above and to working with Leadership, members of the Finance, and HELP committees, as well as her colleagues in the Senate to come up with thoughtful and workable solutions to health care.
Beyond the current health care discussion, Murkowski has proposed several ways to lessen the burdens created by the ACA, including:
- Full repeal of the Cadillac Tax; (In December 2015, the Senate successfully delayed implementation of the Cadillac Tax for two years)
- Improving cost transparency of medical procedures;
- Re-evaluating special enrollment periods to close potential loopholes;
- Expanding both Health Savings and Flexible Spending Accounts;
- Incentivizing people to live healthy lifestyles, in order to prevent and bring down the incidence of chronic diseases;
- Supporting the Family Health Care Accessibility Act, improving the services provided by community health centers by enabling them to utilize volunteer primary care providers;
- Supporting the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act, giving patients the option to negotiate the difference between an ongoing Medicare rate and the physician’s fees and providing the flexibility to increase access to care.
Other Health Priorities:
On other fronts, Senator Murkowski supports a robust research budget for the National Institutes of Health, so the next generation of cures and treatments can be found. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), diabetes, and obesity are among her primary concerns and she advocates for enhanced research funding for these diseases specifically, as well as expanding coverage under Medicare to aid disabled patients as they endeavor to live a normal life.
Alaska has the highest rate of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the nation. Senator Murkowski is committed to doing all she can to put an end to FASD, including introducing legislation to provide support for individuals and their families afflicted with FASD. Senator Murkowski’s legislative efforts also include providing support to improve the health of new mothers and children through the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act. This legislation combats postpartum depression by encouraging routine screening and new connections to treatment options for pregnant and postpartum women.
Opioid addiction has become one of the most pressing public health issues facing families across the nation, including Alaska. Senator Murkowski co-sponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill to fight the opioid abuse epidemic, by supporting community-based drug treatment programs and providing critical resources for those battling opioid addiction. The bill passed the Senate in March 2016. Senator Murkowski is also working to address our nation’s mental health crisis through legislation which will help ensure Alaskans suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders receive the care they need.