Alexander in Shelby County: This Spring, Congress Could Pass New Law to Lower Health Insurance Premiums

Posted on February 20, 2018

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, February 20—United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said in Memphis that Congress could pass legislation this spring to deliver lower cost health policies, and to help the federal government become a better partner for states – like Tennessee – who are fighting the opioid crisis.

 I went to Chick-fil-A in Nashville a few weeks ago, and as I was about to leave, a lady walked up to me and said, ‘My name is Marty. I'm a self-employed farmer. And the year before Obamacare started, my monthly insurance premium was $300. Next year, it is $1,300, and it is very hard for me to afford,’ Alexander said. “Marty is one of 11 million self-employed or small business employed Americans—like farmers, or songwriters, or small businessmen and women—who today are priced out of our health insurance system.”

“The Alexander-Murray bill—legislation I worked out with Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, would fund what are called ‘cost-sharing reduction subsidies’ for two years that help low-income Americans pay for co-pays and deductibles. It would also give the state of Tennessee more flexibility in creating policies at a lower cost and allow anyone to buy a “catastrophic” healthcare plan with lower premiums and higher deductibles to help ensure that a medical catastrophe doesn’t turn into a financial catastrophe.”

Alexander also mentioned the work he is doing as chairman of the Senate health committee to help combat the opioid crisis that is affecting Tennessee families and children.

“In 2016, Shelby County had 197 drug overdose deaths, 150 of which were from opioid overdoses. Congress took important steps in 2016 by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act—which established new programs and encouraged those on the front lines to work together to combat substance abuse, especially opioid abuse—and provided $1 billion in new funding for states to fight the opioid crisis as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

“I will be holding more hearings in the spring to address this crisis, and I will continue working closely with the Trump administration and my colleagues in Congress to see what additional steps Congress should take to help states, doctors, and families address and solve this tragic problem.”

On October 5, 2017, the Senate’s health committee held the first hearing of the series which focused on the federal response to the opioid crisis, and on November 30, 2017, the committee heard from witnesses representing states, communities, and providers on what they are doing and what, if any, new authorities they need from the federal government to fight the crisis. On January 9, 2018, the committee heardfrom author Sam Quinones, who has extensively researched and written about the opioid crisis. On February 8, the committee held its fourth hearing this Congress on the opioid crisis to look at its effect on children and families.

Alexander added that late last year, the Republican Congress delivered a tax bill where a typical Shelby County family of four making just over $70,000 a year will save $2,000 per year on their taxes.

Alexander concluded saying: “Thanks to the tax reform bill passed by the Republican Congress late last year, a typical family of four in Shelby County making a little over $70,000 a year will save more than $2,000 on their taxes, and a single mother making $41,000 a year will see a $1,300 or 73 percent reduction in her taxes. This new law lowers the corporate tax rate to 21 percent—about the worldwide average— and gives businesses the opportunity to bring money back to the U.S. from overseas and deduct their capital investments in the first year. 

“As a result, FedEx announced over $200 million in pay raises, First Tennessee gave its employees a $1,000 bonus, and Wal-Mart increased its starting wage and provided a $1,000 bonus to eligible employees.”