National Press Club

DeGette optimistic about future of bipartisan health care talks

March 30, 2017 | By Shelby Ostergaard | shelbyostergaard@gmail.com

Rep. Diana DeGette

Rep. Diana DeGette

Photo/Image: Ferdous Al-Faruque

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., minority chief deputy whip, said she optimistic about bipartisanship in remarks made at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“Democrats and Republicans can and should work together on solutions for our healthcare system,” she said just days after the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a Republican effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, was abruptly pulled from the floor of Congress due to lack of support.

“Disease doesn’t just strike Democrats or Republicans,” she said. “It strikes everyone.”

DeGette said she sees the universality of disease as a key driving factor to the bipartisan passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. That bill boosts research funding for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s and eases the path to new drug approvals. It passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate.

DeGette sees the path of the 21st Century Cures Act, which she helped negotiate, as a roadmap for what should be next for Congress.

“Here’s what we did that is so pathetically radical in Congress today; we actually listened to stakeholders,” she said. The process also included both parties making compromises and putting aside some differences for later debate. She pointed to the 21st Century Cures Act as a model that “bipartisanship is still possible in our government”.

DeGette offered her health care ten priorities: reducing premiums, reducing deductibles, easing the burdens on small businesses, making healthcare plans easier to compare, reducing high out-of-network bills, lowering drug prices and increasing access in rural areas.

Throughout the debate over the AHCA, “the big complaint Republicans were hearing from their constituents is that premiums were too high and deductibles were too high," she said.

DeGette believes that this overlap of issues is the first step towards bipartisan talks.