Murkowski on Senate Floor: “For Whom is the Affordable Care Act Affordable?”

Senator Details Harmful Effects of ACA on Alaskans, Announces Support for Repeal Bill

As the Senate begins to take a series of votes to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke on the Senate floor to lay out how the ACA is drastically harming the people of Alaska. Senator Murkowski referred to specific examples from Alaskans, including families, small businesses, and school districts across the state, who have reached out to share the financial burdens the failed healthcare law is placing on them.

In her speech, Murkowski outlined how in Alaska, the rising healthcare costs have gone too far:

“Alaskans have the highest insurance premiums in the country, and I hear from folks back home all the time about the burden these costs place on them. Our state’s largest newspaper has been reporting on the premium increases coming out over the past several months, detailing the incredible rise of premiums throughout the state. The average monthly premium for a single 40-year-old in the state of Alaska is now over $700, more than double the national average. People are paying thousands of dollars each month to insure their families, and costs have been going up somewhere between 25-40 percent each year. How do you budget for that?”

(Murkowski discusses rising premiums in Alaska—click image to watch video.)

Murkowski explained how detrimental the ACA’s Cadillac tax could be on Alaska:

“Alaska is facing a fiscal crisis. The state cut the education budget this year and is looking hard at cutting more next year. School districts cannot handle the imposition of hundreds of thousands of dollars in new taxes on top of a budget reduction. The money would be far better spent on paying teachers what they deserve. School districts are now possibly looking to reduce benefits for teachers in order to avoid paying this new tax.  With low pay and no benefits, how are our schools going to get ahead? How can we expect schools to attract and retain quality teachers? The answer is: we can’t. And without quality teachers, it will be our kids who suffer.”

(Click image to watch video of Senator Murkowski discussing the ACA’s impacts on public education.)

Senator Murkowski summarized her reasons for supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

“I’ve asked this question before, but I will ask it again: for whom is the Affordable Care Act affordable? Certainly not the average, hard-working Alaskans who are being forced to shell out thousands of dollars for their premiums each month. It isn’t affordable for school districts and other state entities, who will pay huge taxes. It isn’t affordable for kids, whose education will suffer.

“This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.” 

(Murkowski discusses burdens placed on families, small businesses, and school districts by the ACA. Click image to watch video.)

A transcript of the floor speech can be found here, and a video of the entire speech can be found here.

Background: Senator Murkowski has long been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, recognizing from day one that the one-size-fits-all bill would never work in a rural, sparsely populated state such as Alaska.