Click here for footage of the Senator’s questions.
WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today pressed Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on the Trump Administration’s efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. During a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Senator Hassan called out Secretary Azar for claiming that the Administration is concerned about lowering prescription drug prices while also seeking to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which would lead many Americans to lose health insurance coverage and, in turn, force them to pay more for prescription drugs.
“This administration is, frankly, talking out of both sides of its mouth,” Senator Hassan said. “If the ACA’s preexisting conditions protections disappear because the Trump Administration is putting politics over people and refusing to defend these very popular provisions in the ACA, then many Americans who need health insurance won’t be able to get it, meaning they won’t have insurance to help them afford their medications. This, Mr. Secretary, is like some kind of sick joke. The Administration is trying to pull the wool over the American people's eyes by paying lip service to affordable prescription drugs in their do-little blueprint, all while gutting protections for pre-existing conditions."
When asked whether the Secretary will encourage the Trump Administration to change its position and defend the pre-existing condition protections in the ACA, the Secretary refused to commit to doing so.
Senator Hassan also discussed the problems surrounding direct-to-consumer drug advertising, which drives up costs for patients. As Ranking Member Murray noted in the hearing, Senator Hassan cosponsored a bill with Senator Durbin (D-IL) called the Drug Price Transparency and Communication Act, which would require drug companies to disclose the price of drugs in advertisements. Senator Hassan also helped introduce landmark legislation last year that would help bring down the cost of prescription drugs and end the senseless tax breaks for drug companies that allow them to take tax deductions on the billions of dollars they spend on advertising.