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Pelosi: Democratic Health Care Agenda Cuts Number of Uninsured and Improves Quality of Coverage

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Location: Washington, DC


Pelosi: Democratic Health Care Agenda Cuts Number of Uninsured and Improves Quality of Coverage

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined leading Democrats today to unveil Democratic health care agenda that would increase access to health care and improved quality of care. Below are her remarks as prepared follow by a fact sheet:

"Thank you all for coming. Today, as part of our new Partnership for America's Future, Democrats are putting forward specific steps to promote our core American value of fairness by improving health care.

"I am pleased to join my distinguished colleagues this morning in unveiling these bills, which would expand access to affordable health care coverage, including affordable mental health coverage, cut health care costs, increase biomedical research, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

"It's appropriate that we announce these bills today, as this week is ‘Cover the Uninsured Week.' According to the Census Bureau, 45 million Americans are without health insurance. Millions more encounter a health care system that is unresponsive or inadequate in meeting their basic medical needs because they are underinsured.

"The Democratic health care agenda we are offering today would cut the number of uninsured Americans in half and improve health care throughout the nation.

"My Democratic colleagues will talk more specifically about the bills they are proposing, one of which would expand access to affordable care by building on the success of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid in insuring children by extending coverage to their low-income working parents. Other Democratic bills would give the millions of uninsured Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 the option to buy into Medicare to obtain their health insurance coverage, and expand coverage for small businesses by creating a 50-percent tax credit to help small businesses and the self-employed with the costs of health insurance.

"In sharp contrast, the Bush Administration would reduce access to care for vulnerable populations. Since President Bush took office, some 5 million Americans have lost their health coverage.

"If not for the Medicaid program, the number of Americans without coverage would have been twice as great. Yet, the Republican budget resolution that passed last week unconscionably cut Medicaid by $10 billion. And funding for the Ryan White Act has been severely reduced over the past few years. Funding for other discretionary health programs has also declined significantly especially when adjusted for inflation.

"My colleagues will also talk about our bills to give the federal government the authority to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities, and a bill to allow American consumers to import lower-priced, prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Rather than seeking to lower the prices that seniors pay for prescription drugs, the Administration demanded a law from Congress that expressly denied the Secretary of HHS the ability to negotiate lower prices on behalf of seniors. Competition drives down prices and as a result of both of these policies, drug prices are higher than they should be.

"With biomedical research on the threshold of making breakthroughs in many areas of research, Democrats want to ensure adequate increases for funding for the National Institutes of Health each year, including a $1.5 billion increase over the President's budget for next year. The Administration's proposed increase is 0.5 percent, which would be the smallest percentage increase in 36 years and is lower than inflation, would actually be a decrease.

"Last week, the Democratic Caucus unanimously approved principles that would eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Taken together, these principles would expand health services within racial and ethnic minority communities, and increase recruiting and training of health care professionals from under-represented groups."

FAIRNESS: IMPROVING HEALTH CARE

Today, Democrats are putting forward specific steps to promote fairness by improving health care. These steps include expanding access to affordable health care coverage (including mental health coverage), cutting health care costs, increasing biomedical research, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

Expands Access to Affordable Health Care

Expands affordable coverage for small businesses, by creating new purchasing pools and a 50 percent tax credit to help small businesses and the self-employed with their health insurance costs.

Builds on the success of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid in insuring children by extending coverage to their low-income working parents.

Provides the millions of uninsured Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 the option to buy into Medicare to obtain their health insurance coverage.

Cuts Health Care Costs

Grants Medicare the authority to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities.

Guarantees American consumers the right to import lower-priced, prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries, including imposing strong safety safeguards.

Increases Biomedical Research

With biomedical research on the threshold of making breakthroughs in many areas of research, ensures adequate increases for funding for the National Institutes of Health each year, including a $1.5 billion increase over the President's budget in Fiscal Year 2006.

Reduces Health Care Disparities

Expands health services within racial and ethnic minority communities, increases recruiting and training of health care professionals from underrepresented groups, and increases efforts on combating diseases that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities.

http://democraticleader.house.gov/press/releases.cfm?pressReleaseID=962

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