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.

March 2016

Date Title
3/29/16 Alexander: Cyber Attack at MedStar Health Shows Need for HHS to Implement Cybersecurity Law “with the Urgency Patients and Hospitals Deserve”
3/23/16 Alexander: Today, More than Ever, Americans Need Congress to Go Step-by-Step to Reduce Health Care Costs
3/23/16 Senate and House Committee Leaders Seek Answers from Administration on 316 Security Breaches on HealthCare.gov
3/17/16 Senate Health Committee Leaders Introduce Bill to Help FDA and NIH “Attract Top Talent During This Exciting Time in Science”
3/16/16 Senate Health Committee Passes Alexander, Murray, Cassidy, Murphy Legislation to Help Address Mental Health Crisis in America
3/10/16 Alexander: Senate Takes Important Step to Address Epidemic Claiming More Than 1,000 Tennesseans’ Lives Each Year
3/9/16 Alexander: Biomedical Innovation Would be the Most Important Bill Signed into Law this Year
3/9/16 Floor Speech: 2nd Innovation Markup
3/9/16 Senate Health Committee Passes 7 More Bipartisan Bills in Innovation Agenda
3/7/16 Alexander, Murray, Cassidy, Murphy Introduce Plan to Address Mental Health Crisis in America

February 2016

Date Title
2/25/16 Alexander: $1.2 Million NIH Award to Vanderbilt is “Good News for Millions Who Will Benefit from Personalized Medicine”
2/24/16 Alexander: Senate Ready to Work with New FDA Head, Get a Result for America’s Patients
2/23/16 Alexander: Report Detailing Failures of Obamacare Website Shows Dangers of “Trying to Address Complex Issues through a Sweeping, One-Size-Fits-All Federal Solution”
2/12/16 Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander: An Exciting Time in Biomedical Innovation
2/12/16 Alexander: Non-Partisan CBO Finds Health Insurance Premiums to Keep Rising Despite Obamacare’s Promise to Lower Costs