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Issue Position: Health Care

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

"I will take to Washington my experience achieving health care reform in Vermont so all Americans have access to the health care they need and deserve."

Peter Welch believes every citizen in the United States should have access to affordable health care. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without universal health care - and this must change. Not only do other countries assure their citizens have access to doctor when they are sick, but they have also successfully controlled costs.

Rather than tackle the challenge of improving access to health services and controlling the skyrocketing costs, Republicans in Washington have both idly watched as nearly 7 million more Americans have joined the ranks of the uninsured in the last six years and the burden has been passed onto the states. For too long, Congress has been a part of the problem. For example, this Republican Congress made it illegal for the federal government to negotiate lower prices when purchasing prescription drugs for Medicare and has cut Medicaid reimbursements to the states. Their priorities are wrong.

Peter will take to Washington his commitment and experience advocating for universal health care. In Vermont, Peter led in the passage of the most progressive health care reform legislation in the country. The legislation, signed by the Governor, expanded coverage to the uninsured, will help contain costs, and sets up benchmarks for future reforms. Peter also helped pass tough legislation requiring transparency and full disclosure of pricing by pharmaceutical companies, regulating pharmacy benefit managers, and establishing a prescription drug reimportation program for Vermonters to buy safe, cheaper drugs from Canada.

Peter believes we can expand access and control costs nationally by instituting the same common sense approach used by the Vermont Legislature. As he has demonstrated in Vermont, Peter believes the federal government can reduce the burden on businesses, individuals, states, and local governments while expanding health care for working Americans. Peter outlined the following steps to immediately begin expanding health care coverage for working families:

1. Help businesses by creating a Small Employers Health Benefits Program (SEHBP), which would allow small businesses nationwide to join into one risk and purchasing pool to provide affordable health care to their employees;
2. Help states by removing federal restrictions that impede state-level health care reform initiatives like Vermont,s Catamount Health and improve flexibility;
3. Help individuals by lowering the age of Medicare eligibility for seniors and raising the age of Medicaid coverage to include young adults; and
4. Help tax payers by explicitly requiring Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts with big drug companies as part of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and eliminate the burdensome gap in coverage known as the "doughnut hole."

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