Senator Alexander on Discussion Draft of Senate Health Care Bill  

Posted on June 22, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22 – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the discussion draft of the Senate health care bill:

“To begin with, the draft Senate health care bill  makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases Medicaid funding— that’s TennCare—at the rate of inflation. Let me repeat: it makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases funding for Medicaid—that’s TennCare—at the rate of inflation.”

Alexander continued, “Here are some other benefits for Tennesseans I see in this draft: 

  • Offers health care coverage to 162,000 Tennesseans who make less than $12,000 a year, and under the current law, receive zero help buying insurance.
  • Means the 350,000 Tennesseans who buy their insurance in the individual market – these are Tennesseans who don’t get their insurance on the job or who don’t get it from the government – are more likely to be able to buy insurance next year instead of being in the collapsing Obamacare exchanges where there may be only one option – or even zero options – to buy insurance.
  • Repeals the health insurance tax, which drives up the cost of premiums.
  • Gives the state more flexibility and continues federal cost-sharing, which our state insurance commissioner said will help bring down the cost of premiums.
  • Slows down sky-rocketing premiums, which in Tennessee have gone up 176 percent over four years.
  • Repeals the medical device tax on one of our state’s largest exports.
  • Repeals the employer mandate penalty, which should mean that employers should be able to offer employees more choices of insurance at a lower-cost—and about 60 percent of us get our insurance on the job.
  • Ends the tax on individuals who choose not to buy insurance.
  • Provides more money for hospitals that serve low-income Tennesseans who don’t have insurance.
  • Provides new funding for opioid abuse, and opioid abuse is a rampant epidemic in our state.
  • Provides new Medicaid funding for mental health to double the number of days of in-patient treatment.”

He concluded, “I’m going to continue to review this draft. I’m going to see what it costs when the Congressional Budget Office gives its report. Then, I’m going to stay focused on it next week as the bill goes to the Senate floor – where it will be subject to virtually unlimited amendments – and my focus will be on how it affects Tennesseans.”