Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts and concerns regarding health care reform. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
As you may know, before entering Congress I spent 23 years of my life working as a health care professional. Based on this experience and the past decade representing Southwest Washington, I recognize that addressing the current health care crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation. Our health care system suffers from three key problems: access, cost, and quality outcomes. Millions of Americans lack health care coverage, yet as a nation we spend more per capita on health care than any other nation, while often the outcomes trail other nations.
In Southwest Washington alone, the financial and personal repercussions of the existing inadequate system are devastating. Each year in our state unmanageable health care costs harm countless lives, health care providers deliver millions of dollars in uncompensated care, and thousands of individuals remain uninsured. Nationwide, as many as 14,000 Americans are losing their health insurance each day, and by 2018 health care spending is expected to reach $4.4 trillion, or over one-fifth of the national economy. These costs affect all Americans, not only those who lack coverage. Bearing this information in mind, I believe we must act. To do nothing would be to ignore our responsibility to future Americans.
Although I believe the current situation necessitates health care reform, I also recognize that legislation of this magnitude requires the opportunity for thorough examination. For this reason, I have continued to work to ensure a deliberative and open process, insisting on time for my colleagues and me to read the proposed legislation in full, and time for the people we represent to learn and comment on any proposals. I fought to keep this bill from coming to the House floor for a vote before Members of Congress had a chance to take the legislation home for an active dialogue with constituents. To this end, I held five town hall meetings throughout Southwest Washington in August and heard from thousands of constituents at these and other forums. I am grateful for the opportunity this time afforded to hear the concerns and ideas of such a large number of people, many of whom expressed concerns similar to your own. In addition, I met with experts from all aspects of the health care field to discuss their views on proposed legislation.
These town hall meetings gave me the opportunity to dispel myths about the proposed legislation and to hear real and serious concerns about health care reform. Yet I also came away from these forums convinced that the status quo is unacceptable, and the costs of inaction are severe. With that said, my support for reform depends on the quality of the proposal that emerges. There are specific items I believe any health care reform legislation must include.
o Americans currently satisfied with their health care coverage must be able to retain it in full without penalty.
o Insurance providers must be prohibited from denying coverage to individuals based on pre-existing medical conditions.
o This legislation must reduce health insurance costs while addressing the tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
o The legislation must help small businesses and the self-employed obtain affordable health insurance coverage.
o The final legislation must not add to the national debt and thus must be fully paid for.
o Any public insurance option must be self-sustaining and not unfairly cross-subsidized by other government revenue.
Additionally, I am concerned about the number of doctors who do not accept Medicare patients. Many doctors in our region are forced to turn Medicare patients away because Medicare payments in our state are much lower than elsewhere in the nation. Some have even moved their practices to other states where they will receive a higher per-patient reimbursement from Medicare. I have been working in Congress to resolve this inequity and ensure that doctors in Washington State are treated fairly. I am also concerned about providers accepting a greater number of Medicare patients at cost to the quality of care. Over time, incentivizing quality care will cut costs to the system by encouraging more effective treatment.
Health care costs are growing at an unsustainable rate for the American people. I believe we must reform our broken health care system, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the people of Southwest Washington over the coming weeks to draft legislation that will provide every American access to affordable health insurance.
MY COMMENT: Does it matter that this whole debacle is unconstitutional and is something that Congress should not be messing with??? IT DOES TO ME!!