Today, United States Representative Marion Berry (AR-01) released this statement in support of H.R. 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act.
"I appreciate the thousands of Arkansans who have called, written, e-mailed, and met with me over the last several months to share their concerns about health care in this country. There is broad agreement that the cost of health care is currently unsustainable for individuals, families, small businesses, and taxpayers. Ensuring that American citizens have access to quality, affordable health care is critical to the long-term strength of our economy.
"Throughout the current debate over health insurance reform, I have repeatedly stressed my principles for providing health care and prescription drugs to Americans through the private sector in a way that they can afford. I believe that health care reform must preserve the freedom of individuals to choose their own health plans and providers. I believe that reform should maintain competition among private plans within the marketplace, and that health care choices must continue to be made by physicians and their patients using the best available information. Above all, we must work in a bipartisan and a fiscally responsible way to make sure Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health care.
"I vote for this bill today to move the process forward, not to endorse its entire content. This bill is not perfect; however, it represents significant progress in achieving more affordable and better quality health care. This legislation represents compromise among a wide variety of voices from vastly different regions of the country. It prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions, prohibits federal funding for abortion, and bars illegal immigrants from receiving federal benefits under the bill. In addition, I fought for and was successful in including several priorities for health care reform in this bill, including provisions to provide cheaper prescription drugs for seniors by requiring pharmaceutical companies to negotiate prices with Medicare and filling in the Part D "doughnut hole." The legislation also preserves access for patients to receive durable medical equipment such as diabetic testing supplies from their local community pharmacist.
"For too long insurance companies have found ways to cheat Americans out of the lifesaving care and procedures they desperately need simply because they were more interested in boosting their quarterly profits rather than providing care. One of the most important accomplishments of the House bill is that it puts an end to these practices and ensures that doctors and patients, not insurance companies, make health care decisions. There is no doubt that reform is needed to control rising health care costs, increase quality and value, and to improve access to coverage and care. This legislation is the next step toward that goal."