Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Something worth passing on...

I received this via email from a co-worker. I think Corker's response is important to read and worth the time. I have inserted the text below:

"Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about H.R. 3200, the America's Affordable Health Choices Act. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

I share your concerns about the provisions in H.R. 3200, and I assure you that I will not vote for this bill as written if it is introduced in the Senate. I believe that all Americans should be able to purchase affordable, private, quality health care coverage for themselves and their families; however, I do not support an overhaul of the system that eliminates choice of doctor or health care services, forces Americans out of their current coverage, or further burdens Americans with more taxes and more debt.

The America's Affordable Health Choices Act would take money from Medicare, a program that is itself almost insolvent, and use it to create a whole new set of health care entitlements. This is not sensible and will add incredible amounts of debt to our country's balance sheet. To address this issue, I have written a letter signed by 36 senators to Senate Majority Leader Reid stating that that any potential monies found through Medicare reform should only be utilized to secure the financial stability of this program.

I also have concerns about the America's Affordable Health Choices Act's creation of a public plan option as an alternative to private health insurance plans. I believe that the private health insurance market, with many improvements, has the capability to effectively lower the cost of individual health insurance. Although I am supportive of increased competition among health insurers, I believe that a public option could seriously threaten private plans' ability to compete on a level playing field. As the Senate debates comprehensive health care reform, I assure you that I will be working with my colleagues to craft legislation with the best possible balance of choice, quality, affordability, and competition among health insurance plans. The attached op-ed article further explains my views on how I believe responsible health care reform should proceed.

The America's Affordable Health Choices Act has not yet been introduced in the Senate, but the insight you have provided in your letter will certainly help my staff and I more effectively look in to this issue.

Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me.

Sincerely, Bob CorkerUnited States Senator"

Here is the content in the attachment:

August 6, 2009

I’ve spent two years and countless hours in bipartisan meetings working toward comprehensive health care reforms that would enable all Americans to access affordable, private health insurance, and last month I accepted President Obama’s invitation to discuss health care reform at the White House. I believe we have a moral obligation to give our honest attention to a crisis that is affecting, to varying extents, every single American.

Unfortunately, I believe the Obama administration’s proposal takes us in exactly the wrong direction. It would be, in Governor Bredesen’s words, “the mother of all unfunded mandates,” sending billions in costs to already overburdened states. It takes money away from Medicare, an already insolvent program, and leverages it to create a new entitlement program, further jeopardizing a program our seniors depend upon and adding to our country’s burgeoning deficit. It asks small businesses to bear the largest brunt of its costs, and perhaps most disturbing, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the proposal would “significantly expand” health care spending. Clearly, the administration’s plan is not the answer.

Congress’s first objective should be to do no harm. Second, we should create a budget neutral mechanism to make health insurance more accessible to millions of Americans. Next, it’s critical that we focus on making Medicare more solvent and begin addressing the $40 trillion in unfunded liability that threatens its future. Finally, we should modernize our health care system to increase efficiency, improve quality and lower costs.

Millions of Americans could be covered today, without adding to the federal deficit, by providing advanceable, refundable tax credits, which would give citizens cash in hand to make monthly payments for health insurance. It could be paid for by changing tax code to limit tax benefits for the “Cadillac,” or most costly insurance plans, which are currently not taxed. I believe this concept, and the many variations of it that have been discussed, could win strong bipartisan support.
We could also pass reforms requiring insurers to issue policies to all applicants and preventing insurers from pricing policies based on health status, so that even those with pre-existing conditions would be offered competitively-priced coverage. These reforms would help every American, not just the newly insured.

Nothing poses a greater risk to our country’s financial future than out-of-control entitlement programs like Medicare. Medicare trustees expect the program to be insolvent in 2017. Unbelievably, the administration’s proposal would take cuts made to Medicare and use them to leverage a new program to cover the uninsured – rather than putting the funds toward extending the life of Medicare. Instead of robbing Peter to pay Paul, which compounds debt on future generations, we should focus on making Medicare more solvent. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health and Human Services Department should spend ample time implementing pilots and doing the hard work to determine how we can deliver Medicare better than we are today. Americans should be fearful of 100 senators and 435 members of the House trying to make these highly specialized decisions about how beneficiaries receive care and what services should be available.
Finally, we need to modernize our health care system to create better, more efficient care. Today, instead of a health care “system” we have health care “silos” that prevent providers from coordinating care effectively. Standard health information technology platforms would help providers communicate, eliminate duplicative tests, and ensure patients receive the best standard of care possible. Standardized insurance claim forms would allow providers to spend more time treating patients and less time doing paperwork. Requiring providers to publish transparent pricing and quality outcomes would empower consumers to make informed decisions about their health. Tort reform is also long overdue. According to the American Medical Association, liability pressure raises health system costs by $84-$151 billion per year. With modernization reforms, Congress could expand access to those who need it most, while strengthening coverage for those already insured – all without adding to the federal deficit.

There is no issue more important or more personal to Americans than health care, and there may be no issue more complex. Reforming our health care system in a way that protects America’s unparalleled quality of care and innovation, preserves choice, expands access, and lowers health care costs for all Americans will take time and hard work. I still believe responsible health care reform is possible this fall, and it’s my hope that Congress will slow down and get it right.

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