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Issue Position: Healthcare

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One of my top priorities in Congress is to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare for Hoosier families. Right now, more than 46 million Americans have no health insurance, including over 870,000 Hoosiers. Those who do have health insurance have seen premiums and out-of-pocket costs nearly double in the last seven years. There is no such thing as a silver bullet to fix America's healthcare crisis, but we need to do whatever we can to reduce the strain felt by millions of Americans. I am committed to making our current healthcare system more affordable and accessible.

First and foremost, our ultimate goal must be to make healthcare available to all who want it. If we are to reduce the number of uninsured and reduce healthcare costs for working families, we will need strong leadership from a president who is willing to take bold steps and a Congress that will set aside partisan differences and work together.

About 60 percent of insured Americans are covered by their employers and this source of coverage must be preserved. Congress should act to lower the costs associated with providing health benefits to employees. Small businesses are hit especially hard with rising healthcare costs and have trouble recruiting and retaining employees because of their inability to guarantee affordable health insurance. This has a significant impact on our country's ability to innovate and remain competitive globally.

Self-employed firms are among the small businesses that suffer greatly from the high costs of obtaining health coverage. An estimated 31 percent of the 26,000 self-employed business owners located in the Second District are uninsured. On average, the self-employed pay $12,100 per year for family coverage and this is the only type of business required to pay federal payroll taxes of 15.3 percent on health insurance premiums. I believe we must eliminate this inequity and that is why I support legislation that would exempt self-employed individuals from paying payroll taxes on health insurance premiums.

We must also reduce the frequency of expensive non-emergency visits to emergency rooms. With so many Americans struggling to afford healthcare, community health centers play a vital role in providing routine medical care to our nation's uninsured and underinsured. Community Health Centers currently serve 330,000 Hoosiers per year in cities like South Bend, LaPorte and Mishawaka. In the last seven years, the number of individuals served has nearly doubled. That is why I support the reauthorization of and increased funding for our Community Health Centers.

Healthcare reform should not come at the expense of American taxpayers who are tightening their belts to make ends meet in the midst of an economic downturn. We can cut costs and improve care today by improving efficiency in something as simple as the way we process healthcare information. Research has shown that 30 percent of healthcare costs, or $515 billion per year, come from duplicative services and procedures that add no value to clinical outcomes. An estimated 98,000 Americans die and many more are injured in hospitals from medical errors, many of which can be attributed to mistakes in paperwork. I support efforts to promote wider use of information technology and electronic medical records to reduce dangerous errors and costly and sometimes even unnecessary procedures. By better using existing technology, we can save at least $78 billion a year in health bills, savings that would benefit consumers in the form of reduced insurance premiums.

Finally, Congress should also act to provide healthcare to more children, so that they can be immunized, receive regular check-ups and, as a result, greatly increase their chances of living a long and healthy life. I believe that working parents should be able to take their kids to the doctor when they are sick so they can recover from illness quickly, get back to school and allow their parents to miss fewer days of work. I am proud to have voted to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This legislation would have provided coverage to an additional 4 million children, including 70,000 in Indiana, and I am disappointed that the president vetoed these non-controversial and common-sense proposals to provide healthcare to these children.


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