It is inexcusable that in a country as prosperous as the United States, so many of our citizens are not able to afford health care. More than 45 million Americans lack any health insurance and millions more are underinsured. More than 18,000 Americans die every year who would not have died if they had health insurance.
Last year I voted to ensure that there was enough funding in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover the more than 120,000 currently in the program. SCHIP covers more than 3.8 million children, including the children of American soldiers, but without reform these children are in danger of losing their health coverage. I voted for legislation that would reform and expand SCHIP, but President Bush vetoed this bill.
I have supported mental health parity, so that people with mental illness will receive the same health benefits as those with physical illness. I also voted to make sure that doctors who see Medicare patients are adequately reimbursed. However we still have much more to do.
The next President and the next Congress must address the issue of health care and work towards universal coverage for all Americans. We must do this in a way that leaves major decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors. We can begin to cut costs and improve quality through preventative medicine, improving the quality of health care provided and investing in electronic health information technology, but these are only the first steps.