Every American deserves access to affordable health care and the ability to see a doctor when they are ill without risking financial ruin. I support congressional efforts to reform our health care system in a manner that reduces insurance costs and increases stability and the rights of consumers, and reforms Medicare in a manner that improves care for seniors and delivers cheaper prescription drugs.
There is no excuse for the fact that in the richest nation on earth, more than 47 million Americans go without insurance each year. This lack of insurance coverage not only leads to the death of over 44,000 Americans every year, but it also raises insurance costs because uninsured Americans are treated in hospitals and emergency rooms that pass along the costs to you and me. If we do not pass health insurance reform, health care costs will strangle our national economy and make our nation less competitive in the global market. It is also essential that employers, especially small businesses, should not be burdened with high health care costs that put them at a disadvantage to their competitors in other countries.
Should we enact comprehensive reform, health care costs will actually go down for all Americans. There is no doubt that the best way to ensure lower insurance costs is to provide consumers with an option that will increase competition and drive down premiums from private insurance companies.
I will not support any health care reform that jeopardizes the guarantees of care to seniors under Medicare. On the contrary, health care reform must include provisions that close or eliminate the Medicare "doughnut hole' for prescription drugs that leaves too many seniors paying too much for essential medications. In addition, Congress should pass legislation allowing the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada. This is a safe way to provide access to lower cost prescription drugs. The costs of prescription drugs are too high, and the government must be able to negotiate lower drug prices through Medicare. I am also extremely wary of any changes to Medicare, including Medicare Advantage Plans, that threaten the level of care currently provided to seniors. Any reform plan must provide fair reimbursement rates to physicians to enable them to provide high quality care while meeting their rising costs. Make no mistake, health care reform can be a great improvement in the health care of seniors -- so long as it is done right.