As Senate and House committees move health care reform legislation closer to Floor consideration, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) has added his name as a cosponsor of H.R. 3400, the Empowering Patients First Act, introduced by Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price.
"I have been listening to my constituents, talking to doctors and patients, collecting input, and studying and debating ideas for months," Hall noted. "For a health care plan to be a success, it needs to ensure quality, affordability and accessibility -- and must also ensure that medical decisions are made by patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats."
"Constituents in the 4th District have voiced their opinions and are 100-1 in opposition to any radical, government-run proposal," Hall said. "H.R. 3400 preserves what is best about the current health care system, while acknowledging that there are areas of health care that must be improved. This commonsense legislation makes health care more affordable, reduces the number of uninsured Americans, and increases quality at a price our country can afford--while making sure that Americans who like their health care coverage can keep it."
H.R. 3400 makes the purchase of health care financially feasible by several means. It extends the income tax deduction on premiums to those who purchase coverage in the non-group or individual market, provides a refundable tax credit in advance for low-income individuals on a sliding scale basis, and gives tax incentives to small businesses for adopting auto-enrollment, among other features.
The bill covers pre-existing conditions, protects employer-sponsored insurance, sheds light on existing health care plans, increases choice and portability to patients and gives more flexibility to employers in the benefits offered. It also expands the individual market by creating several pooling mechanisms and limits federal funds being used for abortion.
"This plan does not expand government control and spending," Hall stated. "Instead, it expands consumer choice and protection and helps rein in out-of-control costs." The cost of the plan is offset through savings from health care efficiencies, elimination of waste, fraud and abuse, and an annual one-percent non-defense discretionary spending step-down, among other reforms. It also repeals unspent stimulus funding to help offset costs.
Hall, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, participated in committee consideration of the Democrats' health reform proposal and supported dozens of amendments offered by Republican members that would have provided bipartisan solutions to current health care problems.
"Unfortunately, we were out-voted on all but a couple of those amendments, and the health reform plan that emerged costs too much, expands government too much, and leads to fewer choices," Hall said. "Comprehensive health care reform needs to be bipartisan -- and I will continue to work toward that end as legislation comes to the House Floor for consideration."