|Health Care Reform - August in Review - September 9, 2009|
As Congress resumes its work this month in our nation’s capital, I wanted to briefly update you on what I’ve learned these last few weeks that has helped to shape my views on health-care reform.
Thanks to a productive and civil dialogue with many residents, business leaders and senior citizens in the 7th District, I’m traveling back to
This month, I have heard from people from all walks of life who currently have great insurance and access to quality health care, but they live in fear of what tomorrow will bring. They are concerned that they may lose their health insurance coverage if they get laid off from work or they are afraid of being shut out by insurers altogether because of a pre-existing condition. These local residents want stable, consistent health insurance they can count on.
Business leaders, especially those who own smaller firms, are worried about the exploding costs of health care. These owners of small companies want to provide employees with insurance, but cannot afford it because health expenses have more than doubled in the last few years. And unlike large corporations, these smaller firms are not in a position to negotiate lower rates from private insurers. So these business leaders made clear that they want quality insurance coverage for their employees that they can afford.
In talking to our seniors, I came to better understand their struggle to pay for prescription drugs when costs exceed the threshold of the infamous “donut hole.” And I saw the concern on their faces when they talked about rumors that Medicare may be cut because its skyrocketing costs are unsustainable. These seniors need help paying for their medication, and they want a commitment to maintain Medicare.
And finally, I’ve talked to opponents of health reform who are worried about a “government takeover” of our health care system that will result in the rationing of medical care, reduced choices and lower quality for consumers.
All of these conversations—with both pro-reform constituents and those in opposition—have reinforced for me the need to overhaul a broken system that is leaving tens-of-millions of Americans without access to medical care, and hundreds-of-millions more in fear of one day losing the access they currently enjoy.
As we return to session this week, I will be pushing for a plan that will:
1) Provide stable, consistent and quality health insurance for everyone. People should not have to fear losing their insurance if they get laid off. Nor should they lie awake at night worrying about being denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. That is why I will fight for reform that prohibits insurers from denying people due to a current or prior illness, and I will stand up for a public insurance option that will offer greater choice and bring people stability and peace of mind.
2) Control skyrocketing costs and strengthen Medicare. Medicare is a program our seniors depend on every day, but the costs are breaking our federal budget. To cut the waste and bring down expenses, we must expand our efforts to end fraud and abuse, and we need to stop the practice of overpaying private health plans under the Medicare Advantage program. Through improved efficiency and cost controls, we can actually strengthen Medicare for everyone. We can eliminate co-pays for preventive care, fill in the prescription drug donut hole and extend the Medicare trust fund to ensure long-term stability.
3) Create more choice for everyone, including small businesses. Opponents often cite rationing as a concern for reform, but the fact is that this is happening now. Bureaucrats in the insurance industry are deciding who gets covered and what medical procedures people can have based on costs. We need to increase competition and hold the health insurers accountable by establishing a public option. And we need to level the playing field for small businesses and individuals shopping for coverage by establishing a Health Insurance Exchange. This Exchange would create an open marketplace of insurance options—both public and private—for employees and individual to choose from, and it would make insurance more affordable for small businesses by creating a larger pool of purchasers.
Spending time talking to the people of
With more than 100,000 uninsured people in the 7th District (the highest percentage in the state); with businesses hurting and seniors fearful; with those who are happy with their insurance telling me they still worry about losing coverage in the future—it’s clear to me that we must act now. And we must do so with strength and resolve to enact true reform that addresses the real needs of 7th District residents and the American public.
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