As is my practice to publish all letters I write and letters I get back from my Legislators verbatim, you will read below that she is “convinced” that the government takeover of the health care system is the right thing to do. Read it for yourself. I have highlighted her statement……. She must be defeated come here next election cycle. Maybe THEN when she is in the unemployment line, she will understand when we say “no” we mean “no“.
Thank you for contacting me about comprehensive health care reform. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. The volume of letters I have received so far this year concerning health care reform has made it difficult to respond in a more timely fashion. I sincerely regret it has taken me so long to get back to you, and I assure you the letters you write are important to me.
As you know, the Senate Finance Committee approved health care reform legislation on October 13, 2009. This legislation, titled America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 (S. 1796), helps make health care affordable, reduces the federal deficit by $81 billion, guarantees that patients can choose which doctor they want to see, and helps make high-quality, affordable health care coverage available to all Americans.
On July 15, 2009, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved its health reform legislation, titled The Affordable Health Choices Act (S. 1679). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is currently working to combine these two pieces of legislation to create a single bill for the Senate floor. Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives is working on its version of health reform legislation, which will be conferenced with the Senate’s final bill and voted on again by each chamber before being sent to President Obama.
America’s current health care system is unsustainable. The cost of health care is skyrocketing at more than twice the rate of general inflation, millions of Americans can no longer afford adequate coverage, and more than 14,000 people lose their health insurance each day. Health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent over the last ten years, and are expected to double again in the next ten years. Sixty-two percent of all personal bankruptcies are the result of medical expenses and 80 percent of these occur in families who already have health insurance. Out of control health care costs must be addressed, and the America’s Healthy Futures Act offers commonsense solutions to significantly reduce the cost of health care.
The America’s Healthy Futures Act offers reforms that will help bring about the needed reductions in the cost of health care while reducing the federal deficit without limiting benefit packages or access to a person’s doctor of choice or disrupting or limiting private health insurance options.
The America’s Healthy Future Act contains my proposal to create a value-index to adjust how Medicare pays health care providers to incentivize high-quality care. Under the current system, doctors are paid strictly by the number of services they provide to patients without regard to how their patient’s health improves. My value-index provision puts the focus back on patient health, paying doctors more when they provide better care to their patients. The director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office stated that this value-index provision is the most significant long-term cost reduction included in any of the health reform bills.
I am convinced that a robust public option would provide Americans with increased choice and competition in the private insurance market and would drive down costs for every American. Currently, 94 percent of America’s insurance markets are dominated by just one or two insurance companies and do not have the competition we need to lower costs and improve coverage. During the Finance Committee debate, I was a cosponsor of an amendment to include a robust public option as part of America’s Healthy Future Act and voted twice to add a public option to the bill. While neither of these amendments passed in committee, I will continue to support reasonably constructed public plan options to ensure that the insurance companies stay honest and accountable.
Included as part of America’s Healthy Future Act is my Basic Health proposal, which enables states to negotiate with the insurance industry on behalf of their low-income residents for lower cost, higher quality health care. The Basic Health Plan, modeled after Washington State’s Basic Health Plan, moves us toward the goal of covering the uninsured and spurring competition to drive down health care costs. By allowing states to negotiate, coverage will be more affordable and will save taxpayer dollars. In Washington State, we have seen between 35 and 40 percent cost savings through the Basic Health Plan when compared to comparable benefit packages in the private market. This Basic Health model provides a clear way to offer low-income Americans high-quality, affordable health coverage.
I believe Congress must reform our health care system. My goal is to have legislation emerge from the Senate floor that controls health care costs, improves the quality of health care, and helps to cover hard-working Americans who cannot afford coverage on their own. While there remain significant details to be worked out, reform is more necessary now than ever. I am convinced we can help provide the quality health care system our economy and our workforce need while stabilizing our nation’s long-term finances.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
United States Senator
For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at