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Letter to the Honorable Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, The Honorable Max Baucus Chairman, Senate Finance Committee, The Honorable Christopher J. Dodd Chairman Senate Banking Committee,

Franken Urges Reid to Incorporate Cost Containments Into Health Care Reform Bill

"Freshmen Package" Focuses on Strengthening Cost Containments and Quality Improvements Franken Provision Modeled off Minnesota Diabetes Prevention Program

Today, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) joined 12 of his fellow freshmen senators in urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to maintain the provisions of the Freshmen Amendment Package in the final health reform bill. The Freshmen Amendment Package was included in the Senate bill passed on December 24th.

In a letter to Sen. Reid, the Senators explained that their package will strengthen the final health care reform bill's ability to contain costs and improve quality.

"This package will bring ideas tested and proven in Minnesota to rest of the country," said Sen. Franken, "It's important that as the debate moves forward we keep our focus on containing cost and improving health care quality. It's something we do pretty well in Minnesota and I'm proud to have incorporated some of our best ideas into this bill."

The Freshmen Amendment Package contains a key provision championed by Sen. Franken to help the 57 million Americans who are at high-risk of becoming diabetic. The Diabetes Prevention Act that Sen. Franken authored with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is modeled off a Minnesota program to help pre-diabetics make lifestyle changes before they develop the disease. The provision would enable Minnesota to expand its diabetes prevention program and encourage other states to take similar steps.

The Freshman Amendment Package also contains provisions to enhance value-based purchasing, administrative simplification, health care fraud enforcement, Part D medication therapy management programs, data collection, and efficiency measurements.

Sen. Franken was joined by Sen. Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Sen. Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Merkely (D-Ore.), Sen. Kirk (D-Mass.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N. Mex.), Sen. Hagan (D-N.C.), Sen. Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sen. Kaufman (D-Del.), Sen. Burris (D-Ill.), Sen. Begich (D-Alaska), and Sen. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

The full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman, Committee on Finance
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Christopher J. Dodd
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader Reid:

As deliberations on health care reform continue, we are writing to strongly encourage you to maintain the Senate bill's focus on provider cost containment and quality improvements to our healthcare system.

While the Senate bill is not perfect, we feel strongly that the status quo would be devastating to our future. The Senate version represents a starting point for cost containment and reduction across the healthcare system while improving quality of care. Without reform, our federal deficit will explode, Medicare will go bankrupt, American companies will be at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy, and American families will face double digit increases in their healthcare costs.

To that end we would encourage you to support all of the provisions in the Freshman amendment package, which focuses on cost containment and improved quality by enhancing value-based purchasing, bundled payment pilots, administrative simplification, health care fraud enforcement, Part D medication therapy management programs, data collection, efficiency measure development, Accountable Care Organizations, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Physician Quality Reporting System, and Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Both the House and Senate have worked tirelessly. We have been through an enormously difficult debate. There has been plenty of misinformation and misunderstanding around this effort, and we have taken a series of very difficult votes to get to this point. The Freshman amendment package helps to drive real delivery system reform, promote transparency and competition, and encourage accountability and responsibility. We strongly urge you to maintain this amendment in the final package.

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