Sen. Lamar Alexander: 'Up to half of everything we spend on healthcare is the US is unnecessary'

In a Feb. 27 conversation with The Atlantic, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., spoke about rising healthcare costs in the U.S. and what Congress should do to address the issue.

At the end of the last congressional session in December, Mr. Alexander, who serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, sent a letter to leading healthcare professionals to identify specific ways in which Congress could reduce care costs. Comments for the letter are due March 1.

"We had five hearings on reducing healthcare costs. What I was trying to do was to move away from a perpetual argument over 6 percent of the health insurance market, the individual market, which Republicans and Democrats have been engaged in since Obamacare, to the question of reducing healthcare costs, and I was startled really by the consistent testimony that up to half of everything that we spend on healthcare in the United States is unnecessary," Mr. Alexander told The Atlantic's Kathleen Koch.

When asked if a divided Congress has the ability to pass meaningful legislation on the topic, Mr. Alexander said it is often easier for a divided Congress to do so. But to do so, Congress must move past the continual debate over the ACA.

"As a Republican legislator, I look for where can I get a result … and we've proved that over eight years, that's hard to do on [the ACA]. So I'd rather work on the other set of issues for the next couple of years," he said.

Mr. Alexander revealed plans in December 2018 not to seek re-election after the current session of Congress.

To watch the full conversation, click here.

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