Congressman Jim Langevin today announced he will support H.R. 4872 -- the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. Earlier in the week, he began the final push for health insurance reform as a member of the House Committee on the Budget.
"After months of discussion, analysis and meetings with my constituents in Rhode Island, I have decided that it is time to put an end to the rhetoric and seize this historic opportunity to solve our nation's health care crisis. That begins with passage of a final comprehensive health reform bill.
"Since coming to Congress in 2001, I have tirelessly advocated for fundamental changes to our health care system, and my constituents have demanded solutions. Passing this landmark legislation means we can start to institute the fiscally sound, systemic health insurance reforms critical to easing the ever-increasing burdens on Rhode Island's families and rebuilding our economy. This is a solution that puts patients in charge of their medical decisions, while reducing ballooning health care costs for families and businesses.
"My support for this bill is driven by a desire to ensure quality, affordability and access to care for all Rhode Islanders, especially the 140,000 in our state who currently have no insurance. But reform also makes economic sense. Passing this legislation means cutting the nation's deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion over the following decade -- the largest deficit reduction in 17 years. I cannot overlook the impact that these numbers have on our communities, and how critical they are to moving our state forward.
"I have also stated from the beginning that I would not support a bill that funds taxpayer-subsidized abortions. I have worked tirelessly with my friends and colleagues -- both Democrat and Republican, pro-life and pro-choice -- to reach a common ground on this issue. After much dialogue, counsel, reflection and prayer, I have concluded that the Senate language does meet the longstanding Hyde standard of prohibiting federal funding of abortion.
"Furthermore, I remain mindful that reducing abortion coverage will not reduce the need for abortions. I have always believed that we must reduce unintended pregnancies through education, health care and proper support services.
"Most importantly, we must not lose sight of the big picture. Being pro-life means more than being anti-abortion. It also means protecting the 45,000 people who die every year because they lack proper health care. Nothing could be more pro-life than ensuring access to lifesaving and life-improving treatments for every American, not just those who can afford it. That is what this bill begins to accomplish, and I am proud to support it."
Among key elements in H.R. 4872 and the corresponding Senate health reform bill (H.R. 3590) are:
- A $138 billion deficit reduction over the first 10 years
- A $1.2 trillion savings over the following decade -- the largest deficit reduction in 17 years
- Additional nine years of solvency in the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund
- Closure of the Medicare Part D "donut hole"
- Prohibition of abusive insurance practices like pre-existing condition exclusions and policy rescissions
- A ban on annual and lifetime coverage limits, which are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
- Premium tax credits and cost-sharing assistance to low- and middle-income Americans, providing families and small businesses with the largest tax cut for health care in history
- A health insurance exchange that ensures competition and transparency and provides choice
- An extension of coverage for young people up to age 27 under their parents' plans
- The creation of a new, voluntary, public long-term care insurance program
- Critical investments in strengthening the health care workforce
- A medical loss ratio requiring that a minimum of 85 percent of premiums go to health care and only 15 percent to administration and profits
- Prohibition on the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services except those allowed under the Hyde amendment.
- Conscience protections to guard against discrimination of any health care provider that has a moral opposition to abortion.
- Numerous provisions of the Pregnant Women Support Act aimed at decreasing abortions and providing supports for women
- $250 million for programs to support vulnerable pregnant women
This legislation will also put an end to the worst practices of health insurance companies, like dropping your coverage when you get sick, or arbitrarily hiking up your premiums. Finally, it will begin to put our country on a fiscally sustainable path.