People talk to me about health care more than any other issue. I often say that if it's not the first concern people mention to me, it's definitely the second. I came to Congress knowing that guaranteed access to affordable health care is a priority for the people of Maine and critical for our economic well being, and that solving our health care crisis is essential for Maine's small and big businesses, fishermen, independent contractors, and so many families across the state.
As Congress considered health care reform legislation, I met with hundreds of constituents, health care consumers, providers and business owners to hear what they felt was the right change for Maine. Thousands of Mainers wrote to me and called my office to share their thoughts and make recommendations about key elements of the legislation. The debate over health insurance reform was intense and passionate, and while we may not always agree on every issue, I have truly appreciated the opportunity to hear from people all across Maine who shared their concerns, frustrations, hopes, and personal stories with me.
I was proud to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to strengthen the health reform package, and ultimately to vote in favor of this landmark legislation. While the bill is not perfect, I am confident that this is the right step forward for Maine. I firmly believe that this is the best opportunity we have had in a generation to lower costs for those who are already insured, improve the quality of care in this country, and finally provide guaranteed access to a choice of affordable coverage for every American family.
Health care reform legislation is already starting to make our health care system more transparent, giving consumers new rights and benefits and helping states control costs for families. Because of health care reform legislation, patients will no longer be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions and insurance companies will not be able to cancel policies of people who get sick. Young adults will be able to stay on their family insurance plans until age 26 and seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the Medicare "donut hole" will be eliminated. Preventative care, including annual check-ups and cancer screenings, will be free under Medicare and all new private insurance plans.
We still have some work ahead of us, and it will take some time before we see the full benefit of many of these new changes. I hope that you will stay in touch with your comments, suggestions, and questions as we work together to implement this legislation in a way that works best for Maine.