Last week as the House of Representatives' summer recess came to a close, Congressman Rob Andrews joined a number of forums throughout South Jersey to hear constituents' thoughts on health care reform. Last week's discussions followed the Congressman's August Town Hall Meeting where nearly 1,000 people gathered at Rowan University to join in our nation's spirited health care debate.
The first forum, hosted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), focused specifically on senior citizens' concerns over the current proposals in Washington. Congressman Andrews highlighted that the reform will protect those with Medicare and eliminate the out-of-pocket costs caused by the "donut-hole" gap in prescription drug payments. Also, Andrews stated that the plan will cut prescription costs in the short term by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate fair prescription drug prices under Medicare Part D. In addition to ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, the Congressman indicated that the plan provides premium discounts to those who follow a healthy lifestyle and it eliminates the extra charges many pay for preventative care.
"A plan that respects and improves Medicare is good for our country. Those on Medicare can keep their same health plan and continue to choose their own doctors," said Congressman Andrews in his telephone town hall meeting that included thousands of AARP members throughout our region. "The only change is that our current system will become more stable and efficient."
Many of these points overlapped when the Congressman met with the Gloucester County Times' Editorial Board, where he took questions from a diverse panel of readers chosen by the newspaper. In the meeting, the Congressman pointed out that covering the uninsured is not only necessary for the millions of Americans who struggle without insurance, but it also vital to our nation's economic prosperity. While insured Americans often bear the heavy financial burden for those who cannot afford coverage, more and more money is put into the health care system and not invested into our nation's economic growth.
When asked how the plan will be funded, the Congressman indicated that the proposed system is completely self-sufficient and will not add to our nation's deficit. Rather, the plan fully pays for this investment through health system savings and new revenue including a fee on insurance companies that sell very expensive plans. Finally, by creating a new marketplace called the "Exchange" where the health care industry will need to compete for your business, providers will be forced to lower their premiums while maintaining America's top-quality care. The plan includes a public insurance option within this marketplace that offers an affordable option that Americans can choose if they wish.
Throughout the August recess, families across the country participated in discussions just like these as Congress searches for new ways to cut health care premiums while maintaining the world's best care. Rep. Andrews is eager to hear from constituents in the weeks ahead as Congress continues to seek new ways to improve our nation's health care.