March 20, 2017

Senators: The American People Deserve an Open and Thorough Debate on the Future of Health Care

In Drafting the ACA, the Senate Held Dozens of Bipartisan Roundtables & Meetings, Considered Hundreds of GOP Amendments & Spent the 2nd Longest Consecutive Session in History Debating the Bill

WASHINGTON - As Congressional Republicans continue their dangerous crusade to quickly force Trumpcare through Congress without sufficient hearings, amendments, or debate, 18 senators, including U.S. Senator Tom Udall, demanded Senate Republican leadership conduct an equally transparent and thorough deliberative process on Trumpcare as was conducted in drafting and passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senators contrasted the dozens of bipartisan meetings and hearings, and more than 160 hours of floor debate, with the unprecedented steps that Congressional Republicans are currently taking to force Trumpcare through Congress.

"In light of your continued desire to repeal and replace the ACA, we wanted to remind you of the extensive and open debate the Senate conducted in drafting and passing the ACA in 2009. In total, the Senate spent more than 160 hours considering the health reform legislation," wrote the senators. "By comparison, in 2017 the Republican-majority Senate has rushed through an unprecedented budget resolution that did not even go through the Budget Committee in order to set the stage for a reckless ACA repeal reconciliation bill and has had zero hearings on a replacement plan.

The senators continued, "For many of our constituents, this is a matter of life and death that should not be rushed. With so much at stake, the American people deserve an equally open and thorough debate on the future of the health care sector as occurred in 2009."

While debating the Affordable Care Act in 2009, Senate consideration of the bill included:

- 25 consecutive days, 160 hours, of debate on the Senate floor
- 57 bipartisan HELP Committee hearings, meetings, roundtables and walkthroughs
- 300 HELP Committee amendments
- Adopted more than 160 Republican amendments
- 53 Finance Committee hearings, meetings, negotiations and walkthroughs
- 7-day Finance Committee markup
- Adopted 11 Republican amendments

The letter was led by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). In addition to Murphy and Udall, the letter was signed by Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The full text of the letter is available online and below:


The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Orrin Hatch
Chairman
Senate Finance Committee
104 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Chairman
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader McConnell, Chairman Hatch, and Chairman Alexander:

In light of your continued desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we wanted to remind you of the extensive and open debate the Senate conducted in drafting and passing the ACA in 2009. Because the ACA touches the lives of millions of American families and those in the medical community, we expect that you will follow a similarly transparent and deliberative process on any legislation that would repeal, replace or amend the law.

As a reminder, in 2009, the HELP Committee held 14 bipartisan roundtables, 13 bipartisan hearings, and 20 bipartisan walkthroughs on health reform. The HELP Committee then considered nearly 300 amendments and accepted more than 160 Republican amendments during the debate on the bill.

Additionally, the Finance Committee held 17 roundtables, summits, and hearings on the topic. The committee also held 13 member meetings and walkthroughs and 38 meetings and negotiations for a total of 53 meetings on health reform. The debate in the Finance Committee concluded with a seven-day markup - the longest such markup in over two decades. During this process, the Finance Committee adopted 11 Republican amendments.

Furthermore, when the bill came to the floor, the Senate spent 25 consecutive days in session on health reform, the second longest consecutive session in history. In total, the Senate spent more than 160 hours considering the health reform legislation.

By comparison, in 2017 the Republican-majority Senate has rushed through an unprecedented budget resolution that did not even go through the Budget Committee in order to set the stage for a reckless ACA repeal reconciliation bill and has had zero hearings on a replacement plan.

The health care sector represents approximately one-sixth of the U.S. economy, but more importantly, millions of people rely on the coverage and insurance protections from the ACA. For many of our constituents, this is a matter of life and death that should not be rushed. With so much at stake, the American people deserve an equally open and thorough debate on the future of the health care sector as occurred in 2009.

Sincerely,


Christopher S. Murphy

Tammy Baldwin

Cory Booker

Sherrod Brown

Tom Carper

Dick Durbin

Al Franken

Maggie Hassan

Patrick Leahy

Ed Markey

Bob Menendez

Jack Reed

Brian Schatz

Jeanne Shaheen

Debbie Stabenow

Tom Udall

Chris Van Hollen

Elizabeth Warren