Murkowski backs legislation aimed at lowering health care costs
Sen. Lisa Murkowski recently voted in favor of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 — legislation aimed at several health care solutions to lower health care costs, increase access to care and promote drug price transparency.
The legislation includes 54 proposals from 36 Democrats and 29 Republicans, a release from the senator's office said Friday. It was moved out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a 20-3 vote in favor.
"I want to acknowledge the good, bipartisan, constructive work that Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray have ably led. I thank my colleagues for their focus on the issue of lowering healthcare costs across America," Murkowski said in the release. "This months-long bipartisan effort resulted in a health care package that will increase price transparency, protect patients from getting hit with unexpected medical bills, and lower the costs of prescription drugs."
At the hearing, Sen. Murkowski said the legislation is a positive step to address the country's high health care costs. She also voiced concerns that benchmarks in the legislation could impact providers in rural Alaska. She also spoke about solutions to unreasonably high costs patients are faced with after using air ambulance services, particularly in Alaska where more than 80% of communities are off the road system and air ambulances or Medivac are the only ways to transport people who need care.
Sen. Murkowski helped secure provisions protecting patients from surprise medical bills, expanding telehealth to give those living in remote areas — such as rural Alaska — access to health care digitally. Sen. Murkowski also supported several provisions supporting Native American health care, including a requirement for federally-funded programs to consult tribes on state suicide prevention programs for Native Americans, community health centers and special diabetes programs.
Elizabeth Roman contributed to this report.
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