Bill believes in prevention, medical research, and access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans. As the number of uninsured is presently estimated at 47 million, Bill is working hard to ensure that every American is afforded the highest quality healthcare possible. Bill believes in the fundamental purpose and integrity of Medicaid and Medicare and will not support any action to dismantle them.
Each program, however, must be improved and expanded. Unlike what was forced through Congress and signed into law in 2003, Congress needs to implement a reliable, universal, affordable prescription drug benefit under Medicare. Instead of initiating deep cuts to pay for other programs, Bill wants to ensure that states have the resources to make Medicaid available for every low-income American.
In this regard, Bill fought all year to provide healthcare coverage for an additional 10 million children through strengthening the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Unfortunately, President Bush twice vetoed a bill that would provide these children coverage. While Congress was still able to extend the current SCHIP program through March 31, 2009, the president prevented Congress from truly making headway in reducing the number of uninsured. Bill intends to continue fighting through 2008 until a bill is enacted that strengthens the SCHIP program and gets these children the coverage they need.
Likewise, Bill will continue to work to improve traditional Medicare by increasing benefits for low-income seniors, adding new preventive services, and reforming Medicare and reduce its overpayments to HMOs. Additionally, Bill strongly opposes the Bush Administration's misguided attempts to privatize Medicare and recently voted to roll back these efforts while eliminating the pending 10 percent cut in Medicare payments for the remainder of 2008 and 2009.
Bill believes that reliable healthcare for Americans is a right for everyone, not a privilege for the few and will continue to fight for this principle in the years ahead.