Healthcare costs in the United States continue to skyrocket, affecting the quality of life of all Americans. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance premiums have risen 73% since 2000. I am a natural advocate for finding innovative ways to make healthcare affordable because five of my family members are physicians. In Congress, I will work to provide healthcare consumers more choices, greater quality, and lower costs.
Step 1: Enact legislation to create Small Business Health Plans
In Congress, I will support legislation creating "Small Business Health Plans" which provide small businesses the opportunity to band together to enjoy greater bargaining power and administrative efficiency.
* According to the Small Business Administration, 99% of all employers are small businesses and would benefit from these plans.
* Specifically, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that small businesses would see an average premium reduction of 13-25% under Small Business Health Plans (CBO, January 2000).
* This represents a real cost savings of $450 - $1,250 per employee. Most importantly, according to CONSAD Research Corporation, as many as 8.5 million previously uninsured workers would receive coverage thanks to Small Business Health Plans.
Step 2: Expand Tax Free Health Savings Accounts (HSA's)
In Congress, I will support legislation expanding Health Savings Accounts by increasing contribution limits allowing families and businesses to contribute the maximum amount under their Health Savings Account.
* I would co-sponsor H.R. 5262, the "Tax-Free Health Savings Act."
* Allow existing Flexible Savings Accounts to roll into HSA's for expanded savings.
* HSA's offer triple tax savings: 1) tax deductions when you or your employer contributes to your account, 2) tax-free earnings through investment, 3) tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses (U.S. Treasury Department, April 2005).
* In addition to healthcare cost savings, HSA's have helped to combat the rising number of uninsured. According to the America's Health Insurance Plan Trade Organization, 30% of individual HSA purchasers were previously uninsured. While critics seek to paint HSA's as an option "for the rich only", Assurant Health data indicates that 50% of purchasers have family incomes of less than $50,000.
Step 3: Promote healthcare efficiency and effectiveness with Health Information Technology
In Congress, I will support legislation to implement electronic health care records and health information technology.
* Researchers from RAND have concluded that effective health information technology and electronic health record implementation could save more than $81 billion per year, in addition to countless lives.
* Recently, the Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2005 passed the House with 58 cosponsors and bipartisan support (H.R. 4157). I wholeheartedly support this effort to provide quality healthcare at an affordable cost.
* Specifically, H.I.T. can reduce the rate of serious medical error by 55% and decrease the rate of potential adverse drug events by 84% (The Center for Health Transformation).
* Electronic Health Records offer a secure, portable way to maintain and share patient information between healthcare providers. These records have shown to reduce the rate of adverse drug events by 34%, decrease unnecessary lab utilization by 9%, and save over $44 billion per year (The Center for Health Transformation).
Step 4: Eliminate Medicare waste, fraud and abuse
In Congress, I will work to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and crack-down on those who abuse Medicare.
* These corrupt Medicare practices are costing taxpayers as much as $54.5 million a day.
* According to the HHS Inspector General, waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments drained as much as $19.9 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund in 2004 alone.
* I support the "Medicare Fraud Prevention Bill" sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Biggert which would reduce erroneous payments and strengthen law enforcement powers relating to Medicare abuse.