Casey, Wyden, Murray Call on HHS Secretary, Tom Price, to Reveal Details of Backroom Deals Being Made with Republican Senators

As Senate GOP Continues Secret Negotiations, the American People Are Left to Wonder What the Damaging Impacts on their Health Care Will Be

Casey, Wyden, Murray Call on HHS Secretary, Tom Price, to Reveal Details of Backroom Deals Being Made with Republican Senators

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee, and Patty Murray, Ranking Member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, have sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, calling on him to reveal the details of the backroom deals being made with Republican Senators in order to gather support for their health care scheme. As the Senate GOP continues secret negotiations, the American people are left to wonder what the damaging impacts on their health care will be. During the House health care debate, President Trump sent a letter to House Republicans promising a series of rollbacks in basic health care protections through administrative action, yet Secretary Price and the White House have refused to release the letter. On June 20th, Secretary Price met behind closed doors with Republican Senators but has refused to divulge what documents were presented or what promises for regulatory rollbacks were made. Today, Senators Casey, Wyden and Murray, all Ranking Members of Senate committees, have made this inquiry as a matter of basic oversight.

The Senators wrote, “On April 4, we wrote to you regarding promises the Administration made to House Republicans to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through executive action in exchange for their support on the Republican bill.  In that letter, we requested the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide a letter that President Trump presented to a privileged group of House Republicans in March outlining the insurance regulations the Administration would repeal on its own if House Republicans voted for the health care bill.  Despite our request, and absent a reasonable basis to withhold this document, you have refused to share this letter with all Members of Congress.

It has now come to our attention that, on June 20, you joined a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans regarding our nation’s health care. The public deserves to know if you made promises during that meeting to rollback protections, undermine coverage, and breed uncertainty in exchange for political expediency.” 

The full text of the letter can be seen below:

After weeks of secret negotiations and backroom deals, Republicans in the Senate unveiled a health care bill for the public to review.  Upon the release of the legislation, the American people sent a clear message that it would not stand for a bill that would rip affordable health care away from 22 million hard-working people in exchange for tax cuts for the extremely wealthy and special interests. 

And yet, instead of heeding the calls of families to abandon efforts to jam the Republican scheme through Congress, you and Senate Republicans continue to negotiate the future of our health care system behind closed doors.  Absent an open and transparent process, we can only assume that you are making backroom promises to administratively undermine the health care millions of people receive in order to secure support for passage of legislation that increases health care costs and reduces coverage.

Our assumption is based on the Administration’s past interactions.  On April 4, we wrote to you regarding promises the Administration made to House Republicans to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through executive action in exchange for their support on the Republican bill.  In that letter, we requested the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide a letter that President Trump presented to a privileged group of House Republicans in March outlining the insurance regulations the Administration would repeal on its own if House Republicans voted for the health care bill.  Despite our request, and absent a reasonable basis to withhold this document, you have refused to share this letter with all Members of Congress.

It has now come to our attention that, on June 20, you joined a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans regarding our nation’s health care.  The public deserves to know if you made promises during that meeting to rollback protections, undermine coverage, and breed uncertainty in exchange for political expediency. 

In order to shed light on what secret deals have been made in an effort to secure support for the Republicans’ shameful legislation, we again request that you provide the document that was presented to Congressional Republicans on March 23, 2017, which outlined insurance regulations the Administration could repeal on its own.  Further, we also request that you provide all documents and communications related to the meeting you had with Senate Republicans on June 20, 2017.   This request includes, but is not limited to, communications, meeting notices, meeting agendas, meeting notes, informational materials, talking points, or any materials exchanged or provided at that meeting. 

Given the limited scope of this request, and since there is no reasonable basis to withhold many of these records, please provide all responsive records by July 6, 2017.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,