EXCLUSIVE: GOP Senator Floats Proposal To Lower Health Care Costs

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana released a multi-part proposal Tuesday morning that he hopes will catalyze a debate in Congress about how lawmakers can go about lowering health care costs while delivering value to patients.

“Families and patients have seen their health insurance premiums and the cost of care go up year after year. It’s unaffordable and unsustainable, and things aren’t going to get better until we change our broken system,” Cassidy said in a statement released to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I’m focused on lowering health care costs, because we have to make health care affordable again. That’s what these ideas I’m outlining are intended to do.”

The proposal lists six key areas of focus: empowering patients to reduce their health costs, lowering health insurance premiums, increasing competition in the marketplace, decreasing drugs costs, cutting administrative red tape in the medical industry and reducing costs through prevention, primary care and chronic disease management. 

“The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to fix this mess by ending the rules that right the system for the companies with all the lawyers and lobbyists, and giving patients the power to choose what is best for them,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy noted in his statements that partisan gridlock has largely defined the health care debate in the nation. After Republicans failed roughly a handful of times to repeal and replace (or simply repeal) Obamacare in 2017, a few bipartisan proposals intended to shore up the marketplace and stabilize premiums made their way around the Senate, but ultimately failed to become law.

The senator, along with GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, wrote a bill last fall that would have drastically cut down on federal spending toward Obamacare and gave greater flexibility to states in how they chose to implement the health care law.

Cassidy and his team are now focusing their efforts away from repeal and replace and are more focused on how the Senate can provide consumers relief from skyrocketing health care costs.

Cassidy, along with GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Todd Young of Indiana, along with Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Carper of Delaware, is already pushing what he calls a “health care price transparency initiative.” (RELATED: Senators Attack Health Care Prices)

The Trump administration is likely to back initiatives related to lower drug costs and deregulation–two key campaign platforms of the president in 2016.

President Donald Trump preview his administration’s February campaign to lower drug costs in his first State of the Union Address this year, claiming it among the top priorities for 2018.

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down,” the president said.

Cassidy acknowledges that Republicans are heading into a midterm election cycle where they will take heat from Democrats regarding their attempts to repeal Obamacare and the Trump administration’s numerous swipes at the health care law over the past year, like cutting cost-sharing reductions and the program’s advertising budget. His proposals could help give Republicans some talking points on the campaign trail, providing an offensive game plan for incumbents and first-time candidates. (RELATED: Dems, Republicans Press Medical Industry To Post Prices)

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