Last year, when the House of Representatives considered the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, I voted against the bill because I believed that the legislation did not fully address the needs of the people of the Sixth District of Kentucky. I had many concerns about the legislation, including proposed cuts to rural hospital payments through Medicare and Medicaid, burdens placed on Kentucky's small businesses, and a lack of measures to keep the cost of healthcare down, perpetuating a healthcare system that is fiscally unsustainable.
Although I did not support the legislation as a whole, few can deny that the new law includes critical reforms that are already benefiting thousands of Central Kentuckians. Under the new law, children can no longer be denied insurance based on preexisting medical conditions, insurance companies can no longer avoid paying patients' healthcare claims because of lifetime caps on coverage, and seniors are receiving additional catastrophic coverage subsidies to help pay for their life-saving prescription medications.
As I have consistently and repeatedly stated, I believe we need to repeal many parts of this legislation, but I also believe we must keep provisions that help protect Kentuckians. As we move forward in the 112th Congress, please rest assured that I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, to improve our nation's healthcare system, to ensure access to coverage and services, to lower costs, and to improve health outcomes for all Americans.
Since the implementation of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan for seniors, many have complained about the so-called "doughnut hole" in its coverage. As you may know, Medicare Part D requires beneficiaries to pay 100% of the cost of their prescription drugs after they reach a threshold of around $2,700 until their out-of-pocket expenses reach a total of $4,350. As a result, many seniors are forced to take less than prescribed doses of these important medications, or go without them entirely, which I view as an unacceptable consequence. In reform discussions, I have supported the inclusion of a patch for this gap in coverage that affects so many of our seniors.
I have also supported past initiatives that would force insurance companies to cover mental illnesses in much the same way they currently cover physical illness, as well as eliminate preexisting conditions exclusions that currently prevent those with chronic disease, such as diabetes and cancer, from obtaining coverage. Although this process is at times contentious, I am committed to the development of responsible policies that maintain access to safety-net programs by those who need them while expanding the current insurance marketplace to include access to affordable, high-quality health insurance for the hardworking families and individuals of the Sixth District.