WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on President Trump's State of the Union address:
"Rather than taking this evening as an opportunity to attempt to unify a deeply divided nation, President Trump instead delivered a State of the Union address that seemed focused solely on rallying his own political supporters behind him.
"I'm especially stunned that the President walked into the House chamber tonight and declared that he wants to protect Americans with preexisting health conditions, despite the fact that he has spent three years undermining the Affordable Care Act, putting those protections at risk for the more than 3 million Virginians who have a preexisting condition.
"If the President really means what he says about protecting people with preexisting conditions, he should immediately direct the Department of Justice to reverse its support for a lawsuit designed to take down the health care law in its entirety, and instead work with Democrats to lower health care and prescription drug costs and end surprise medical billing."
Sen. Warner, a longtime champion of access to health care, has been outspoken about the Trump Administration’s effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act in court. Last year, he introduced legislation to allow Virginia, and any other states that expanded Medicaid after the 2014 deadline, to receive the same federal matching funds as states that expanded earlier under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, this bill would save Virginia’s hospitals an estimated $300 million per year in the first three years of implementation.
Additionally, in October, Sen. Warner forced a Senate vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would have overturned a Trump Administration waiver rule that destabilizes the nation’s health insurance market and weakens protections for 3 million Virginians with preexisting conditions.
In his speech tonight, President Trump called on Congress to pass legislation to lower prescription drug prices. The Senate Finance Committee, of which Sen. Warner is a member, in a bipartisan 19-9 vote last year approved legislation that would help address the rising cost of prescription drugs by taking on industry price hikes and protecting seniors with the highest out-of-pocket costs. However, despite support from Republican Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), whom the President named as a partner on the issue in tonight's address, the Senate Majority Leader has declined to bring the bill to the full Senate floor for a vote.
In Congress, Sen. Warner has long pushed for policy changes to help lower prescription drug costs for Virginia seniors and families. Last year, Sen. Warner re-introduced legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices—a move that would cut costs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.