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Op-Ed: Stable, Affordable Health Care For Western Wisconsin

Op-Ed

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Location: Unknown

The Affordable Health Care for America Act not only makes health care more stable and affordable for those who already have health insurance, but it guarantees access to health insurance coverage for the uninsured, and provides security for seniors while responsibly reducing the federal deficit over the next ten years and beyond. This is reform that is long overdue.

There are over half a million uninsured Americans in Wisconsin alone, a number that grows daily. Many who currently have coverage have shared with me their concern that coverage often costs too much or doesn't cover everything they need. Some feel they are one catastrophic illness from going bankrupt. Doing nothing was not an option.

The health care reform bill will offer stability and security to families who are satisfied with their health insurance and provides choices for those who aren't. It will provide increased access to high quality care that is affordable for individuals, families, and businesses.

Through the bill, health insurance will be made more affordable by providing credits to help 182,000 households and 15,000 small businesses in western Wisconsin purchase insurance and protecting up to 1,000 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs. The bill caps out of pocket costs and eliminates lifetime limits on insurance coverage to protect your financial security. Small businesses will also be able to enter into the health insurance exchange, modeled after legislation I authored, and with the help of small business tax credits, find affordable health insurance for employees.

Health insurance will also be more accessible and in our district alone, provide coverage to the 35,000 who go without and allow the 9,000 individuals in western Wisconsin with pre-existing conditions to get the coverage they are currently denied. Those who do not receive coverage through their employer will be able to purchase coverage at group rates through a health insurance exchange. The plans in the exchange will be completely transparent on the prices charged and the services covered.

Under the bill, the quality of coverage will also improve. Approximately 67 percent of the district's population, 478,000 residents, who receive coverage from their employer, will be able to keep their coverage and it will get better. Insurance reforms in the bill will also eliminate co-pays and deductibles for preventative care, rate increases or denials for pre-existing conditions, gender or occupation.

Currently, we spend over $700 billion each year on tests and procedures that do not work and do not improve patient care. In too many instances, because of over treatment, this care actually makes patients worse off. Based on negotiations I led, the bill includes provisions that reform the way we deliver health care and how we pay for it by rewarding value-based, quality medicine over the volume-based medicine currently practiced. This is a historic reform to the way providers are reimbursed for the care they provide and the quality of care patients receive that will eliminate millions in wasteful spending that doesn't help the patient. I know this care works because the health care providers in our region have practiced high quality, low cost care.

The bill does all of this and is fiscally responsible, reducing the deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years. The Affordable Health Care for America Act helps us control health care spending and will ensure the affordability of care while at the same time guaranteeing our country isn't driven further into debt as we reform the health care system.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act will ensure the sustainability of our health care system. It will provide stable, affordable, high quality health care to all Americans, regardless of health status or occupation, and guarantee we do not leave a legacy of debt to our children.


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