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Public Statements

Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

SERVICE MEMBERS HOME OWNERSHIP TAX ACT OF 2009 -- (Senate - December 07, 2009)

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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I am here to speak on my amendment, which is a simple and straightforward amendment to create an enrollee satisfaction survey for the qualified health plans offered through the exchange established in the Senate health care reform bill. Let me show you how this will work. This is taken from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Web page that is administered by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM. They lay out on the Web page how the survey works.

The first question is:

How would you rate your overall experience with your health plan?

Other questions are:

When you needed care right away, how often did you get care as soon as you thought you needed it?

How often did your personal doctor listen carefully to you, show respect for what you had to say, and spend enough time with you?

This is all collected and put into a form and used when people make health care decisions on what plan to choose. One of the real measures of the quality of a health care plan is how satisfied people are with that plan. It is a little bit hard to measure. We send out these surveys to Federal employees. They come back and the information is available to the public. People can click on this and know, when they are about to sign up for a plan, how the plan rates in satisfaction.

This is not a new idea. It has been around for a long time. It helps people make good health care decisions. It allows them to compare one company to another. It allows them to look at what the people who have that health care plan right now, how they perceive the performance of the plan. It is a win-win for the whole system.

The idea is to make this part of the new law, and if you are on the exchange, you would have access to filling out one of these surveys; but, more importantly, you would also have access to reading the surveys and knowing, when you are making your health care choice, how your company rates. Here are a few examples.

Again, this is from the Web page right now under the Federal health care plan. The first question was about overall plan satisfaction. The FEHBP national average is 80 percent. People are 80 percent satisfied with that. There is one insurance company that only has 54.5 percent. Another one has 88.7 percent. So you can understand the range. Again, that is not to say nobody is happy with that one at 54.5 percent, but it allows the people who are purchasing the health care to make an informed decision before they enter into a contract with the company.

One of these categories is ``getting care quickly.'' The average is 91.6 percent. It is not a big spread, but one company is at 88 percent, a little below average. The highest company is at 93.5 percent, a little above average. That is not a very big spread, but if getting care quickly is your most important thing, you may want to go to the one where the people who use that insurance company right now say you get care the quickest.

Another issue is the claims processing. That is one of the questions here: How does a company do in processing your claims? In our office, we have hundreds of complaints from people around Arkansas who have had problems with insurance companies processing their claims. Again, the average here is 92 percent. That is what the FEHBP average is. There is a company that has a 77-percent rating as a result of the survey. There, again, that is not saying people would not choose that company; they may choose it for other reasons. But if the claims processing part of their business is important, they may not choose that company, or at least they know what they are getting into. The highest one I saw in the claims processing was 96.8 percent.

You understand this is something that already exists, something I cannot imagine anybody having a problem with because it puts the tool in the hands of the people making decisions on the health care provider that they are going to choose. It puts the tool in their hands, before they choose them, to know what they are getting into.

Lastly, basically, this doesn't cost any money--and if it does, it is just a tiny amount. This is a very consumer-friendly tool. It simplifies the process for people. It takes a lot of anxiety out of the process for people. It is also a very good commonsense, grassroots way to hold insurance companies accountable. If they don't do well in these customer surveys, chances are they will not get a lot of business in the coming year. It puts a quality control there--a satisfaction-based quality control there. I think it is a great tool for keeping people happy. I can guarantee you that, when they look at the survey from this company that only had 55 percent respond in a positive way, they are going to talk to their folks and say: We have to get that number up. What is going on in this company?

Again, this is something people talk about. I have heard many people in Arkansas and around the country say they want the same deal we have in Congress. This isn't all the same deal, but this is part of it. What we are able to do is, when we make health care choices, we are able to have this knowledge before we make a decision. Accountability and performance go hand in hand. This is a great example of how we can do that and have a very inexpensive way and a way that is meaningful to the people making the decision. This is there at the point of decision.

I ask that all my colleagues join in this amendment. We will vote on this, I understand, around 4 o'clock.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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AMENDMENT NO. 2939

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I would like to speak on my amendment for just 1 minute.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I would ask my colleagues to look at this amendment very closely. It is a good consumer-oriented amendment that will allow people to make smart decisions on their health insurance. We need more of this type of information to allow the premium payers to make good decisions for themselves, for their families, and for their businesses. So I would ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to consider voting for this amendment.

Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.

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