Medicare is a cornerstone of our health care system: it takes care of our seniors, supports our doctors and hospitals, and even affects the care given to our service members. One of my priorities in Congress is to strengthen Medicare and ensure that it can continue to take care of Americans for years to come.
We can strengthen Medicare by fixing the inequity in Medicare reimbursement rates for Washington state. Because of a flawed, complex funding formula, the federal government provides fewer Medicare dollars for Washington state. One of the reasons we receive less in our state is because our health care system is efficient and cost-effective - that's not fair. This means that even though our physicians and hospitals provide great health care, they receive lower rates to treat patients on Medicare. As a result, many seniors in Northwest Washington struggle to find a doctor who accepts Medicare.
This fight for equitable reimbursement rates is about fairness and continued access to high-quality health care. I have joined my Washington state colleagues in introducing legislation that will increase Washington state's reimbursement rates to the national average. It will reward our state's efficient health care system and will ensure that seniors have access to the care they need.
Helping Small Businesses and Working Families Afford Health Care
The high cost of health insurance is often the single most important problem for small businesses. Currently, over half of the 46 million Americans who lack health insurance are self-employed, owners, or employees of small businesses. In fact, most of the decline in health care coverage over the last decade has been a result of increasingly high health care costs for small businesses.
My plan for small business health care includes group pooling arrangements and tax breaks while maintaining high-quality standards in coverage. In 2006, I cosponsored a bill that would expand coverage for small businesses by creating purchasing pools and a 50 percent tax credit to help small businesses of under 50 employees and the self employed with their health insurance costs. As a new member of the Small Business Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to develop legislation that would expand coverage and drive down costs for small businesses.
Bringing Down the Cost of Prescription Drugs
I am working hard to bring down the costs of prescription drugs through Medicare Part D reform, Medicare prescription drug price negotiation and reimportation of prescription drugs. Last year I introduced the FIX Medicare Part D Act, which would have made several of these reforms. This year, I voted for legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.
Support for Life-Saving Research
I strongly support efforts to improve medical research by increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Groundbreaking research on diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and AIDS has been supported by the NIH. I am continuing to work to make sure that critical medical research receives the support it needs from Congress.