Last week, the Chairmen of the three Committees with jurisdiction over health policy in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced comprehensive health care reform legislation that will reduce out-of-control costs, encourage competition among insurance plans to improve choices for patients, and expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
The legislation, America's Affordable Health Choices Act, is consistent with President Obama's overall goals of building on what works within the current health care system by strengthening employer-provided care, while fixing what is broken. The bill will ensure that 97 percent of Americans will be covered by a health care plan that is both affordable and offers quality, standard benefits by 2019.
The House Committees on Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce have been working together in an unprecedented way as one committee to develop the proposal for health care reform. This week each of the three committees will be marking up the legislation, allowing for continued input from members of Congress and the American people.
"Reforming America's health care system to control costs and improve access to quality affordable care is not only the moral thing to do, it is also critical to our economic recovery and the long-term fiscal health of our nation," said U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel (NY), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. "Health care costs are rising out of control, threatening the economic well-being of American families and businesses. This innovative bill provides a uniquely American solution to control costs and put patients first without burdening future generations with debt."
"For individuals who either aren't currently covered, or wanted to enroll in a new health care plan, the proposal would establish a health care exchange where consumers can select from a menu of affordable, quality health care options: either a new public health insurance plan or a plan offered by private insurers. People will have similar choices that members of Congress have," said U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (CA), the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
"American families cannot afford for Washington to say no' once again to comprehensive health care reform," said U.S. Rep. George Miller (CA), the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. "We are proud to introduce legislation that meets the goals articulated by President Obama - to lower costs, preserve choice, and expand access to quality, affordable health care - while strengthening our economic and fiscal health. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the weeks ahead to deliver the fundamental reforms that the American people want, need and deserve."
"I'm pleased by the progress we've made on the America's Affordable Health Choices Act. Across the spectrum - from liberal to conservative with moderates in between - everyone knows health care is a major part of our current economic crisis," said U.S. Rep. John Dingell (MI), the Chairman Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "If left unfixed, our health care crisis will cause the next great economic catastrophe. We can't afford to let medical costs continue to rise. We can't afford to leave people in a system that looks to recruit the healthy and leave the sick uninsured, underinsured or uncertain about their insurance. The current broken health care system will not fix itself and the people who made billions from it have no reason to change their ways unless we make them. The bill will address many of the problems we've heard from Americans whether they live in rural or urban communities, or are employed by small businesses and large factories. What we know now is that we must get something done."
"I am proud to join with my colleagues to introduce America's Affordable Health Choices Act. This bill meets President Obama's call for health reform that provides coverage for all, promotes delivery system reforms, and controls costs," said U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (CA), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. "Our committee will begin markup this week and have a bill for members to approve before the August recess."
"People have talked about the need for health care reform for decades, but today that talk is being converted into action," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ) the Chairman of Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. "This plan will produce historic change but making history does not come easily. It's taken a lot of hard work and we have more work to do. This is a giant step forward that puts affordable and quality health care within reach of every American and puts our country back on track to fiscal sustainability."
"Today we are pleased to announce a plan designed to free financial waste within our health care system and get costs under control. This effort ensures that Americans receive better care for their dollar and paves the way for economic growth," said U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (NJ), the Chairman of the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee. "While government, businesses and insured Americans continue to bear the heavy financial burden for those who cannot afford coverage, limiting costs will free up the resources necessary to revitalize our economy, put Americans back to work, and expand health care to millions of struggling uninsured Americans."