Saturday, November 21, 2009
Carney on Health Care
Commander Chris Carney has returned from active duty blowing up things in Afghanistan by remote control to vote on the health insurance reform bill. He sent us an explaination of why he voted for the legislation:
As you are all aware, Congress is currently considering historic health reform legislation. Recently, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, and the Senate will begin debating their health care reform legislation in the coming days. I would like to thank all of you who took the time to contact my office with your opinions on this critical issue. My office received an unprecedented amount of correspondence, containing carefully thought-out and passionate views.
While this bill is far from perfect and there is much more work to be done, it accomplished some important steps that I strongly support.
This legislation provides relief for working families.
The House bill takes a critical step toward providing quality, affordable health care while reducing the cost burden on our hardworking families and small businesses. Every day, I hear from people in Northeast and Central Pennsylvania who have lost their insurance, cannot pay their premiums, or are struggling to provide health care for their employees.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act reduces the deficit by $139 billion over the first 10 years, while providing health coverage to 96 percent of eligible Americans. The bill limits out-of-pocket expenses to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family and prevents individuals and families from going bankrupt due to medical costs. In addition, families currently pay an extra $1,107 a year in health insurance premiums to provide care for the uninsured through emergency room visits. This legislation eliminates that hidden health tax.
This legislation ends discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions.
As a cancer survivor, I am especially supportive of provisions that protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. It is wrong for insurance companies to deny coverage to someone because of a pre-existing condition or to take coverage away because someone gets sick.
Beginning in 2010, the limits how far back in a patient's medical history insurer's can look back for pre-existing conditions, from six months to 30 days. In 2013, this bill completely prohibits pre-existing exclusions. It also prohibits health insurance companies from rescinding existing health insurance policies when a person gets sick and eliminates annual or lifetime benefit caps.
This legislation increases coverage for senior citizens.
Seniors should not have to choose between paying for their prescription drugs and putting food on their tables. This legislation reduces the Medicare Part D donut hole by $500 next year, and completely eliminates it by 2019. In the meantime, seniors in the donut hole will have access to 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs.
Our seniors deserve a Medicare system that provides them with the very best. This bill eliminates cost sharing for preventative services to encourage wider use of preventative care for Medicare beneficiaries.
Finally, the bill prohibits private insurers from charging older adults more than twice as much as younger adults.
This legislation provides greater insurance access for small businesses.
Small businesses face rising health insurance costs, high administrative costs, and pay more for less coverage. Many small business owners would like to provide their employees with coverage but simply can't afford to. Today, because small businesses have small risk pools, insurance companies can punish small businesses if one of their employees gets sick.
In 2013, health reform will give small businesses and their workers access to a Health Insurance Exchange - a new marketplace that allows small businesses to comparison shop for affordable insurance plans with lower rates, lower administrative costs, and greater choice. Some small businesses will also be eligible for a tax credit that will cover up to half the cost of providing coverage for their employees. Additionally, this bill prevents insurance companies from charging more because of an employee's health status, protecting small businesses from unreasonable rate increases.
I am confident that with the passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, we have taken a positive step toward strengthening health care, not only for Pennsylvania but for our nation as a whole.