WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Senate begins to take a series of votes to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke on the Senate floor to lay out how the ACA is drastically harming the people of Alaska. Senator Murkowski referred to specific examples from Alaskans, including families, small businesses, and school districts across the state, who have reached out to share the financial burdens the failed healthcare law is placing on them.
In her speech, Murkowski outlined how in Alaska, the rising healthcare costs have gone too far:
“Alaskans have the highest insurance premiums in the country, and I hear from folks back home all the time about the burden these costs place on them. Our state’s largest newspaper has been reporting on the premium increases coming out over the past several months, detailing the incredible rise of premiums throughout the state. The average monthly premium for a single 40-year-old in the state of Alaska is now over $700, more than double the national average. People are paying thousands of dollars each month to insure their families, and costs have been going up somewhere between 25-40 percent each year. How do you budget for that?”
Murkowski explained how detrimental the ACA’s Cadillac tax could be on Alaska:
“Alaska is facing a fiscal crisis. The state cut the education budget this year and is looking hard at cutting more next year. School districts cannot handle the imposition of hundreds of thousands of dollars in new taxes on top of a budget reduction. The money would be far better spent on paying teachers what they deserve. School districts are now possibly looking to reduce benefits for teachers in order to avoid paying this new tax. With low pay and no benefits, how are our schools going to get ahead? How can we expect schools to attract and retain quality teachers? The answer is: we can’t. And without quality teachers, it will be our kids who suffer.”
Senator Murkowski summarized her reasons for supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:
“I’ve asked this question before, but I will ask it again: for whom is the Affordable Care Act affordable? Certainly not the average, hard-working Alaskans who are being forced to shell out thousands of dollars for their premiums each month. It isn’t affordable for school districts and other state entities, who will pay huge taxes. It isn’t affordable for kids, whose education will suffer.
“This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”
A transcript of the floor speech can be found here, and a video of the entire speech can be watched below.
Background: Senator Murkowski has long been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, recognizing from day one that the one-size-fits-all bill would never work in a rural, sparsely populated state such as Alaska.
- December 2009: Senator Murkowski votes against S. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
- May 2013: Murkowski co-sponsors the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, to redefine full-time employee status within the ACA to the conventional 40 hours workweek.
- July 2013: Murkowski and 45 other Senators write a letter to the White House urging the entire healthcare reform law be permanently postponed.
- September 2013: Senator Murkowski co-sponsors one year delay for individual mandate.
- October 2013: Murkowski votes to repeal the medical device tax on pacemakers, joint replacements, defibrillators, and other items under the ACA.
- November 2013: Murkowski co-sponsors the “If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It” Act.
- September 2014: Murkowski pens an opinion editorial on the harmful impacts of the ACA on Alaskans.
- January 2015: Senator Murkowski re-introduces the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, to re-define “full time” employee status within the ACA to the conventional 40 hour workweek.
- January 2015: Murkowski co-sponsors the Hire More Heroes Act, to incentivize companies to hire more American veterans by exempting potential employees already receiving health coverage from being counted toward the 50 employee threshold for the ACA’s employer mandate.
- June 2015: Senator Murkowski responds to the announcement that Premera and MODA were forced to drastically increase premium rates as a result of the “Affordable” Care Act.
- June 2015: Senator Murkowski pens an opinion editorial on how the Affordable Care Act has become one of the most ironically named pieces of legislation for Alaska in history.
- September 2015: Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan co-sponsored legislation to repeal the Cadillac Tax, which would place a 40% excise tax on high-cost insurance plans.
- October 2015: The PACE Act is signed into law, which Senator Murkowski co-sponsored to halt a change of what is considered “small employer” within the ACA. [xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]