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.

July 2016

Date Title
7/13/16 Alexander: Bill Headed to President’s Desk “Will Give Substantial Boost to Those Fighting on Front Lines of Opioid Epidemic”
7/11/16 Alexander: “Senate Should Finish Its Work on 21st Century Cures in September”
7/8/16 Alexander: House Passage of Conference Report “Puts Us One Step Closer to Providing a Substantial Boost to Those Fighting on Front Lines of Opioid Epidemic”
7/7/16 Alexander: NIH Announcement Puts Vanderbilt “Front and Center in President’s Precision Medicine Initiative”
7/6/16 Alexander Urges Senate, House, and White House to Support Opioid Conference Report, Provide “Substantial Boost to Those Fighting on Front Lines of Opioid Epidemic”
7/6/16 Alexander: Obama Administration Takes "East Tennessee Common Sense Advice," Will Remove Pain Management Questions from Medicare Payment Calculations
7/6/16 Alexander: Opioid Abuse Kills More Tennesseans Than Car Accidents or Gunshots

June 2016

Date Title
6/29/16 Alexander: Darin Gordon Helped Transform TennCare into One of the Country’s Most Fiscally Responsible Medicaid Programs
6/29/16 Alexander: New FDA Cancer Center Brings “Exactly the Kind of Coordination Necessary” to Get More Individualized Treatments and Cures to Patients
6/28/16 Alexander: No Excuse for Democrats’ Partisan Blocking of Funds for Zika Virus and Veterans
6/23/16 Alexander: Tennessean’s Miraculous Eyesight Recovery Underscores Need for Congress to Pass 21st Century Cures Now
6/22/16 Alexander: Congress Needs to Enact Reforms to Ensure Seniors Can Count on Medicare to Pay Their Hospital Bills
6/15/16 The Hill: Passing 'cures' bill means better health possible for virtually every American
6/15/16 Burr, Alexander: Government Watchdog Finds FDA Lacks Plan to Keep Pace with Science, Efficiently Review Life-Saving Medical Products
6/11/16 Alexander: Tennessee Rates Skyrocket Due to Obamacare