Murkowski Calls for Senate Action on Affordable Care Act
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke on the Senate floor to outline the numerous ways the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has failed Alaskans and the rest of the nation, and called for action in the Senate to repeal and fix this unworkable law. The speech comes on the heels of Moda Health announcing its withdrawal from the Alaskan market in 2017, which forces nearly 14,000 Alaskans to change insurers next year and leaves Alaskans with only one option for health insurance on the individual market.
Senator Murkowski began by explaining the various ways the ACA has impacted Alaska’s boroughs, schools, and families:
“I have shared the stories of hard-working Alaskans who are paying over $2,000 per month for the cheapest bronze plan available on the exchange. I have spoken about how the ACA has been called the “single greatest threat” to quality public education, because school districts face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines under the Cadillac Tax. And I have relayed stories from employers, who cannot afford to expand their business due to the employer mandate, which harms both businesses and workers. Bottom line—the ACA does not work for Alaska.”
She went on to acknowledge that while a full repeal of the law would be the best course of action, it is simply not possible under the Obama administration:
“I have consistently supported full repeal of the ACA and have voted to do so on several occasions. I have recognized that it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to do so with this administration. I have supported steps that would reduce the burdens of the ACA and work to address some of the most harmful provisions in the law… As we look to the end of this administration, I hope that we can seriously address the problems that the ACA has created for so many areas of our country. For rural states like Alaska, the approach to health care needs to focus on more than forcing people to buy insurance.”
Senator Murkowski proposed several ways to lessen the burdens created by the ACA, including:
- Full repeal of the Cadillac Tax;
- Creating a nation-wide insurance pool so that policies are not limited to one state;
- 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 incidences 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.
(Click image to watch Senator Murkowski’s floor speech.)
Background: In the past year alone, Senator Murkowski has worked in various ways to fix the harmful impacts of the Affordable Care Act.
- May 2016: Senator Murkowski pens an opinion editorial on how the Affordable Care Act is driving insurers off the exchanges and out of business.
- December 2015: Senator Murkowski votes for the year-end budget package which delays implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax” for two years, along with the ACA’s mandated tax on medical devices.
- December 2015: Senator Murkowski votes for H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act which aimed to dismantle large portions of the ACA.
- October 2015: The PACE Act is signed into law, which Senator Murkowski co-sponsored to halt a change of what is considered “small employer” within the ACA.
- September 2015: Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan co-sponsor legislation to repeal the Cadillac Tax, which would place a 40% excise tax on high-cost insurance plans.
- June 2015: Senator Murkowski pens an opinion editorial on how the Affordable Care Act has become one of the most ironically named pieces of legislation for Alaska in history.
- June 2015: Senator Murkowski responds to the announcement that Premera and MODA were forced to drastically increase premium rates as a result of the “Affordable” Care Act.
- January 2015: Murkowski co-sponsors the Hire More Heroes Act, to incentivize companies to hire more American veterans by exempting potential employees already receiving health coverage from being counted toward the 50 employee threshold for the ACA’s employer mandate.
- January 2015: Senator Murkowski re-introduces the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, to re-define “full time” employee status within the ACA to the conventional 40 hour workweek.