Congressman Jim Matheson urged substantial changes to a draft health care bill at the beginning of a House committee hearing Thursday to consider the comprehensive legislation. Matheson was joined in his plea by fellow Blue Dog members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Matheson is a member of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force.
"We have an historic opportunity to transform our health care system into one that meets the needs of all Americans," Matheson said. "To grasp this moment, we must fundamentally change the incentives in our system in order to reward high quality, efficient health care."
Matheson said that over the past several months, the Blue Dogs -a group of centrist House Democrats whose defining principle is fiscal responsibilityhave put forth substantive policies in order to achieve common sense and bipartisan health care reform. Matheson noted it was Blue Dog Democrats who helped forge the compromise that led to overhaul of federal welfare legislation in the 1990s.
Matheson said in order to preserve what is best about our system, we must fix what is broken. He said the present course is unsustainablefor families, businesses and the US treasury.
Matheson urged the following:
Be more aggressive in implementing innovative delivery reforms to bend the cost curve;
Provide assistance for individuals, families and small businesses to help them purchase health care without bankrupting the federal government; and,
Find every penny of savings within our current public programs (Medicare, Medicaid) and ensure we get more value for every health care dollar we spend.
This week, three House Committees started working on different sections of a proposed health care billHR 3200. Hearings will continue next week.
Matheson said failure to act is not an option, nor is putting more people into a broken system realistic.