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.

Related Issues: Health