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Issue Position: Health Care

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

"The 21st century starts with the promise of even greater advances in health care and the treatment of diseases. If we take the right steps now, we will be able to live fuller and longer lives." -- Senator Joe Biden

The Biden Plan: A Prescription for a Healthier America

Getting More Americans Health Insurance: Senator Biden is committed to reducing the ranks of the uninsured--especially the 9 million children without health insurance--and improving American's access to essential health care services. He is working to provide health insurance to more Americans by:

* Expanding the SCHIP program to allow more children to participate, and increasing outreach efforts to enroll every child eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid.

* Allowing uninsured Americans the opportunity to purchase an insurance plan that mirrors the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) and by giving people 55 and older the chance to buy in to early coverage under Medicare.

* Providing federal coverage for catastrophic cases so patients are not overly burdened with astronomical health care costs and to help lower premiums to make insurance more affordable for businesses and individuals.

Encouraging Prevention and Modernization: The United States spends more money than any other nation on health care--currently around $2.2 trillion--but does not have the expected health outcomes to show for it. Obesity rates have doubled over the last two decades and we currently spend 75 cents of every health care dollar on patients with chronic diseases. Senator Biden wants to bring health care costs under control and increase the quality of care by:

* Placing a greater emphasis on prevention and wellness to contain health care costs associated with chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, osteoarthritis and heart disease.

* Establishing a Comparative Effectiveness Panel to evaluate treatment protocols, medical devices and new technology, and establish best practices for management of chronic diseases.

* Continuing support for and increasing investment in health information technology like electronic medical records.

* Urging the adoption of uniform billing and claims processes to reduce administrative costs.

Strengthening the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program: Senator Biden fought for years to expand the Medicare program to cover prescription drugs with a plan that would provide valuable coverage, be easy to use, and affordable to most seniors. Senator Biden supports improving the plan by:

* Allowing the federal government to directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which could help lower drug prices for consumers.

* Eliminating the benefit gap in coverage, otherwise known as the "donut hole."

* Speeding up availability of generic drugs.

Increasing Funding for Biomedical Research: Senator Biden understands the important role the federal government plays in finding cures for cancer and other diseases by supporting important biomedical research. He is working to strengthen these efforts by:

* Continuing robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), building on the successful effort that doubled NIH funding over five years.

* Adopting the NIH guidelines on federal funding for stem cell research.

* Establishing a biotechnology coordinator in the Executive Branch.

* Developing vaccines and other effective responses to potential biological weapons.

Protecting the Privacy of Medical Records: Senator Biden knows how important it is to patients that their personal medical information be kept private. He supports:

* Making sure individuals' medical information is not used against them or unknowingly sold for commercial profit.

* Ensuring that as we move toward more efficient, cost-saving electronic medical records, privacy interests remain a priority.

* Preventing the use of predictive genetic information, such as whether someone carries the gene for breast cancer, from being used to discriminate against persons in decision-making related to employment or health insurance.

The Biden Record: Protection and Prevention

Safeguarding Medicare and Medicaid: Senator Biden has consistently fought efforts to undermine these important programs for our nation's seniors and low-income citizens, and has worked to enhance their effectiveness through:

* Ensuring an adequate supply of physicians by opposing arbitrary caps on reimbursements and reforming the provider payment system

* Strengthening Medicare anti-fraud efforts.

* Allowing disabled patients in Medicaid to receive care in the least restrictive setting possible and to direct their own treatment plan.

* Supporting increased federal Medicaid funding when states are faced with a fiscal crisis.

Preventing Breast Cancer: Senator Biden has led efforts to detect, treat and prevent breast cancer by:

* Helping to enact the breast and cervical cancer prevention program to ensure mammograms are available to low-income women and women without health insurance, and then expanding the program to offer treatment.

* Originating legislation passed in the Senate each year since 1993 recognizing National Mammography Day every October to encourage women to have mammograms. Sponsoring legislation to expand Medicare to include coverage of mammograms.

* Fighting to guarantee insurance companies do not deprive breast cancer survivors of reconstructive surgery.

Supporting Mental Health Parity: Senator Biden has long cosponsored legislation to ensure that the limitations on health insurance coverage of mental illness be no more restrictive than the limitations on coverage for other medical and surgical disorders.

Preserving Genetic Non-Discrimination: Senator Biden has fought to prevent the use of predictive genetic information, such as whether someone carries the gene for breast cancer, from being used in decision-making related to employment or health insurance.

Ensuring Proper Health Care for America's Veterans:Senator Biden has consistently fought for increased funding for VA health services to ensure proper care and administrative processing without imposing new fees and co-payments. He has also supported medical research of diseases and injuries that disproportionately affect veterans.

Providing Comprehensive Health Services for People with HIV/AIDS: A co-sponsor of the original Ryan White CARE Act, Senator Biden has maintained his commitment to funding research and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., while also supporting international efforts to reduce the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa and developing countries around the world.

Improving Living Conditions for Disabled Citizens: Senator Biden has long championed efforts to allow Medicaid to provide the home-and community-based support services needed by disabled individuals to remain out of institutions. He also fought to allow low-income families with disabled children to buy in to the Medicaid program.

Ensuring an Adequate Supply of Nurses: Recognizing the problems a nursing shortage presents to Delaware and the rest of the country, Senator Biden supports efforts to provide scholarship and loan repayment programs for nursing students, award grants to nursing schools and health organizations, increase the number of nurse faculty and promote public information programs to encourage people to enter the nursing profession.

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