Issue Position: Health Care
Claire is committed to policies that provide access to affordable, quality health care to Missouri families and seniors.
Children's Health Insurance
Claire was a part of the Senate effort to expand health care for millions of uninsured children. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization would extend the nationwide insurance program for another 5 years and expand it to cover an additional 3.2 million children. Missouri has 68,000 children enrolled in the state's CHIP program but this legislation would make thousands more eligible. Unfortunately, the CHIP legislation was vetoed by the President, and is mired in partisan politics. Claire is continuing to reach across the political aisle to find a common ground and secure a proposal that can be signed into law for Missouri families.
American consumers pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the same brand name drugs cost 35 to 55 percent less in other countries than they do in the United States. Claire believes that the way to tackle this problem is to allow Americans to buy safe prescription drugs on the world market. She is a cosponsor of the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S.242) that was introduced by Senator Dorgan. The legislation would allow U.S. consumers, pharmacies and drug wholesalers to import FDA-approved prescription drugs at substantially lower prices.
Reforming the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
Claire believes the new Medicare Drug Benefit will help seniors get needed drug coverage, but the program may still be costing taxpayers and seniors too much because the law forbids the federal government from negotiating with the drug companies to get the best deals. Permitting this kind of negotiation could enable Medicare to pay lower prices than what private drug plans have negotiated.
The House of Representatives in 2007 passed legislation to give the Medicare agency that authority, similar to what the Veterans Administration has been doing for years. Unfortunately, some in the Senate chose to filibuster the issue and the bill is trapped until more Senators choose to support this measure. Claire will continue to fight for this common sense legislation to make the new drug benefit work for seniors.
Stem Cell Research
Embryonic stem cells have the unique ability to develop into virtually every cell and tissue in the body, and stem cell research is giving hope to millions of people with debilitating diseases and disabilities who may one day benefit from embryonic stem cell therapies. Scientists report that the restrictions the Bush Administration has placed on federally-funded research is hindering progress.
Claire is a cosponsor of S.5, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. This legislation, which the Senate passed in spring 2007, directs the Health and Human Services Secretary to conduct and support embryonic stem cell research, but includes strict requirements to assure that stem cells were derived from embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for fertility treatment and are in excess of what was needed for those treatments; the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded; and that the individuals who donated embryos have provided their writtenn informed consent and have not received any financial benefit for making the donation.
Unfortunately, the President vetoed the bipartisan legislation. More than 100 million Americans suffer from diseases or conditions that could one day be treated with therapies derived from stem cell research. The President's veto is a devastating setback, but Claire will continue to support efforts to pass this important legislation.