U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) released the following statement today after voting in support of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962). The bill passed the House by a vote of 220 to 215.
"There is no doubt that health care is costing our small businesses too much, our families too much and the federal government too much. The status quo is unacceptable. The Affordable Health Care for America Act will give hard working individuals and small businesses access to affordable health coverage, and give families and businesses some stability and security during these hard economic times.
"I support the Affordable Health Care for America Act because it is a good bill for Washington state, and a good bill for our small businesses, families and seniors.
Good for Washington State
"I fought hard to make sure the health care reform bill included a fair deal for Washington state. I pushed to protect access to health care for Washington state patients by ensuring that Washington state is rewarded, not penalized, for providing high-quality, low-cost patient care.
"This bill includes language to fix the long-standing Medicare reimbursement problems that have hurt access to health care in Washington state. This is a huge victory for our state.
Good for Small Businesses
"Employees of small businesses currently pay an average of 18 percent more in premiums than those in large firms for the same benefits. Their deductibles are more than double. And the cost of insurance for small business owners has increased 129 percent since 2000.
"Small businesses pay higher rates today because they do not have the advantage of large numbers of employees over which to spread the insurance risk. Because of their small size, insurance companies are able to charge them higher health insurance premiums based on employee health status.
"This bill will create a health insurance exchange, or pool of insurance companies and plans, for small businesses. This will help small business employers and employees benefit from group rates. There are approximately 21,100 small businesses in the 2nd District that could benefit from this exchange.
Good for Families
"The Affordable Health Care for America Act brings stability and security to families struggling with increasing health care costs. It provides coverage to the 104,000 individuals lacking insurance in Washington's 2nd Congressional district.
"The bill also bans discrimination for pre-existing conditions, age and gender. No one should be denied coverage, or be charged through the roof, because of their age or gender, or because they have a pre-existing condition.
"It is also important to point out that this bill protects people's choice of doctors and health plans. If you like your doctor or your health plan, you can keep your doctor or health plan. If you have good insurance that you like, nothing in this bill will take it away from you.
Good for seniors
"And finally, the bill improves Medicare benefits, strengthens the solvency of the Medicare program, and closes the "donut hole" in the Medicare Prescription Drug Program to better serve our seniors.