Leading on Health Care

Fighting the Opioid Crisis

On October 24, 2018, President Trump signed the most important new health care law this year – legislation to fight the opioid crisis led by Senator Alexander. It deals with the nation’s worst public health challenge by helping to stop deadly fentanyl from coming from China to America by mail, finding new non-addictive pain killers, allowing opioids to be dispensed in blisters packs, for example a 3- or 7- day supplies, and providing more opportunities for treatment. As Chairman of the Senate health committee, Senator Alexander was the lead Senate sponsor.

Since March of 2018, Congress has also approved $8.5 billion to help implement this legislation and support communities, families, law enforcement and medical personnel who are fighting this crisis.

Reducing Health Care Costs

As Chairman of the Senate health committee, Senator Alexander has been leading a series of hearings examining how to reduce the cost of health care. At the first hearing of the series, the committee set the stage for how much health care costs, at the second hearing, the committee explored ways to reduce unnecessary health care spending, at the third hearing, the committee focused on ways to ease the administrative burden on doctors and hospitals, and at the fourth hearing, the committee focused on finding ways to improve access to information about the cost and quality of health care for patients.

The Committee has also taken other actions to lower the cost of health care, including approving the Patient Right to Know Act, a new law that will ban “gag” clauses that prevented pharmacists from telling patients about the option to potentially pay less for their prescriptions by paying with cash instead of using their insurance.

Lowering Health Insurance Premiums

Despite the fact that Democrats have elevated Obamacare to the 67th book of the Bible and refuse to change a single word of the law, Senator Alexander and the Trump Administration have been working to lower premiums for the thousands of Tennesseans who buy their own health insurance. Senator Alexander has offered legislation in the Senate that health experts say could lower premiums by up to 40 percent for the millions of Americans who purchase their own health insurance.

In June, the Trump Administration announced a new Department of Labor rule that would allow a self-employed Tennessee plumber or farmer or employee of a small business to buy lower cost employer health insurance that will include the same protections, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, that employees of large companies have. In August, the Administration announced they would once again allow Americans to purchase lower-cost short-term health insurance plans for up to 12 months – plans that were available to Americans during all of the Obama Administration. These plans are an option for Americans who have lost their job or found Obamacare plans were too expensive. In October, the Administration gave states a better tool to help lower Obamacare health insurance premiums, by giving them more freedom in the law’s 1332 State Innovation Waiver. In four bipartisan health committee hearings Alexander chaired last fall on lowering health insurance premiums, virtually every witness told our committee that the waiver application was too cumbersome, inflexible, and expensive for states to use.

Senator Alexander has helped lead the fight against Obamacare since it was proposed in 2009. At the White House health care summit in February 2010, Alexander gave opening remarks on behalf of all congressional Republicans in opposition to Obamacare. The senator told the president the proposal would raise individual premiums. President Obama disagreed, but Tennesseans have seen their premiums increase 176 percent since 2013.

May 2016

Date Title
5/25/16 Floor Speech: 21st Century Cures
5/19/16 Alexander Votes to Support Transportation Infrastructure, Fund Veterans’ Programs and Military Construction, Help Combat Zika Virus
5/19/16 Alexander Votes to Support Tennessee Farmers and Protect Public Health
5/17/16 Senator Alexander Votes to Help Protect Americans from Zika Outbreak, Spur Vaccines and Tests
5/16/16 Alexander: EEOC Workplace “Wellness” Rules Will Make it Harder for Employees to Choose Healthy Lifestyles and Save Money
5/4/16 Alexander: Senate Bill to Spur Treatments, Cures for Patients Would Be “Most Important Legislation This Year”

April 2016

Date Title
4/21/16 Alexander Cosponsors Bill to Ensure Tennessee Hospitals are Paid Fairly for Services
4/21/16 Alexander: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Legislation that Will Help Tennessee Fight Crime, Build Infrastructure, Clean Up Meth Labs
4/19/16 President Signs Senate Health Committee-Passed Legislation to Spur Treatments and Cures for Zika
4/19/16 President Signs Bipartisan Legislation to Support Social and Nutrition Services Like ‘Meals on Wheels’ for Nearly 12 Million Seniors
4/12/16 Senate Health Committee-Passed Legislation to Spur Treatments and Cures for Zika Heads to President’s Desk
4/7/16 Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Support Social and Nutrition Services for Nearly 12 Million Seniors
4/6/16 Senate Health Committee Approves Last of 19 Bipartisan Bills, Completing Work on Companion to House-Passed 21st Century Cures Act

March 2016

Date Title
3/31/16 Alexander, Murray Introduce Bill to Let NIH “Spend More Time on Life-Saving Treatments and Cures”
3/29/16 Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis