Saturday, August 08, 2009

Healthcare letters

My conservative buddies - and me - have been writing our Senators and Congressmen about the health care bills.

I encourage you to do the same, regardless of your point of view, you should make it heard on this very important topic.

Here is the response I received from Senator Casey. Even though I disagree, it is at least reasonably well argued.


Dear Mr. Morphis:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about health care reform. I appreciate hearing from all Pennsylvanians about the issues that matter most to them.

We cannot afford to wait any longer to reform America’s health care system. As a member of the United States Senate and of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, I am working with my colleagues and with President Obama to enact meaningful health care reform, with the goal of providing every American with access to high quality, affordable health care. Ensuring the unique health needs of children are met will be a specific priority of mine in health care reform. Many of my constituents have contacted me to share their opinions on a wide range of potential health care reform options. I welcome your comments and suggestions on this important issue.

On July 14, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) successfully reported out our bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act, to reform the Nation’s healthcare system. At its core, this landmark bill provides additional choices for Americans who need health insurance, while maintaining health insurance options that currently exist and that individuals may wish to keep.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Affordable Health Choices Act will cost $611 billion over the next ten years. Our current system is not sustainable and waiting to act or doing nothing will only make the problems worse. If we do not act, more people will lose coverage. As costs increase, the quality of care will diminish and the ballooning costs incurred by the government and business will endanger America’s fiscal health. The Affordable Health Choices Act will reduce costs by emphasizing prevention, cutting waste and modernizing the health care system through quality information technology.

The Affordable Health Choices Act also promotes prevention by giving Americans the information they need to take charge of their own health, such as information on early screening for heart disease, cancer and depression and information on healthy nutrition. The Affordable Health Choices Act takes strong steps to improve America’s healthcare workforce, making sound investments in training the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who will serve the needs of patients in the years to come and ensuring that patients’ care is better coordinated so they see the right doctors, nurses and other health practitioners to address their individual health needs.

To address the need for more choices for Americans, The Affordable Health Choices Act includes a public health insurance option called the Community Health Insurance Plan. This plan will be one of many plans available to individuals through the Affordable Health Benefit Gateways that will be established in each state. These gateways build on the success of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which provides a range of different health plans from which to choose to federal employees including civilian employees, Members of Congress and their staffs, retirees and their families. The Community Health Insurance Plan will be required to comply with the same rules governing private plans offered through the health insurance gateways, and will comply with the same insurance regulations as private insurers.

The Committee on Finance, of which I am not a member, has jurisdiction over other areas of health care reform and is in the process of developing its own draft legislation. This jurisdiction includes many of the options being discussed to finance health care reform such as Medicare payment reforms and taxing health benefits, sugary drinks or alcohol. Some of the most significant provisions regarding children also fall under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Finance, such as the Medicaid and CHIP programs. After the Committee on Finance has finished developing and considering its health care reform legislation, the bill will be merged with the Affordable Health Choices Act for consideration by the full Senate later this year. I will be examining carefully both the bill that the Committee on Finance develops and the merged bill that the full Senate will consider for their impact on health care for children, particularly our most vulnerable children, as we engage in the continuation of this debate in the weeks ahead.

For more information about the health care reform legislation Congress is considering, and to read the text and summaries of the bills, please visit my blog at http://casey.senate.gov/about/blog/post.cfm?pl=Health_Care_Reform:_The_Time_Is_Now.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

If you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to visit my web site, http://casey.senate.gov. I invite you to use this online office as a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator

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