To: Interested Parties
From: Brad Woodhouse, Protect Our Care Campaign Director
Date: September 22, 2018
Subject: Frist, Wilensky, Daschle, Slavitt Join Growing Chorus Calling For Bipartisan Process On Health Reform; Condemn Reckless Rush On Graham-Cassidy Repeal
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Joining a rapidly growing number of health experts from across the political spectrum, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Future of Health Policy panel called for a return to bipartisan cooperation on health reform. The panel, which includes former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist and Tom Daschle; former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt; and former administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration Gail Wilensky, condemned the partisan process around the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill. Rather than trying to ram thru the widely opposed Graham-Cassidy bill which Senator John McCain announced his opposition to today, the Senate should focus on productive bipartisan proposals such as the the Collins-Nelson market stabilization proposal and the Alexander-Murray discussions that were under way in the Senate HELP Committee.
The panel of bipartisan leaders said:
“Bipartisan, fully negotiated and analyzed reforms to our nation’s health care system are essential if we are to ensure access to quality, affordable health care coverage for all Americans. Cooperation across party lines is critical to creating legislation that will be sustainable over the long term. It is regrettable that consideration of the Graham-Cassidy amendment is taking place entirely outside of a productive bipartisan process.”
The announcement comes as non-partisan groups representing nearly every facet of the health care industry, including insurance companies, doctors, patients, hospitals and other patient-provider groups have come out in opposition to Graham-Cassidy. A sampling of these many groups include: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, AARP, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, AHIP, the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the American Heart Association.
Yesterday, in an unprecedented joint statement, all the board of directors of the National Association of Medicaid Directors said: “Our members are committed to ensuring that the programs we operate improve health outcomes while also being fiscally responsible to state and federal taxpayers. In order to succeed, however, these efforts must be undertaken in a thoughtful, deliberative, and responsible way. We are concerned that this legislation would undermine these efforts in many states and fail to deliver on our collective goal of an improved health care system.”
Meanwhile, a group of governors representing both parties have come out in strong opposition to Graham-Cassidy. In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the governors said: “We ask you to support bipartisan efforts to bring stability and affordability to our insurance markets. Legislation should receive consideration under regular order, including hearings in health committees and input from the appropriate health-related parties. Improvements to our health insurance markets should control costs, stabilize the market, and positively impact coverage and care of millions of Americans, including many who are dealing with mental illness, chronic health problems, and drug addiction.”
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval added last night that “Flexibility with reduced funding is a false choice. I will not pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers, or any other Nevadan against each other because of cuts to Nevada’s health-care delivery system proposed by the Graham-Cassidy amendment.”
The many calls for bipartisanship and regular order echo those by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for the Senate to return to regular order to consider how to best reform our health care system. Senate leadership should not jam a bill of this magnitude through with nothing more than a facade of a Finance Committee “hearing” and a CBO score that does not address how many people will lose coverage.
This growing chorus of leaders and experts from across the political spectrum are calling for a return to the bipartisan legislative process, rather than rushing to push through an unpopular bill without due consideration or analysis. It is time for the Senate to heed these calls.