Upton says Waxman blocks bipartisan consensus triesPublished 8:34am Thursday, September 24, 2009
WASHINGTON – Cass County’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., third- highest ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Wednesday urged Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to slow down the legislative process and listen to the public’s concerns over H.R. 3200, a bill that amounts to a government takeover of health care.
Upton and his Republican colleagues offered a comprehensive amendment, introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., during Sept. 23′s committee proceedings that reflected many concerns the public raised during the August recess.
Upton said the amendment specifically addressed many items President Obama referenced Sept. 9 to the joint session of Congress.
Chairman Waxman prevented the substantive Rogers Amendment from being voted on, however, Upton said.
“Today, we had a unique opportunity to step back, take a breath and have a thoughtful discussion on the concerns that our constituents have expressed over this government takeover of health care – yet our efforts were steamrolled,” said Upton.
“Committee Republicans answered the President’s call on a whole host of issues to reach a bipartisan consensus, yet Chairman Waxman prevented a simple up-or-down vote. It is disappointing that the many concerns raised by folks across the country over the last seven weeks have fallen on deaf ears. Speaker Pelosi has said she wants this health care bill to be considered by the House in a couple of weeks – if the bill she wants is a bill that is reported out without even taking the President’s recommendations into consideration – good luck.”
Upton believes we should pursue common sense reforms that will make a difference – provide employer incentives for companies to offer insurance to their employees, tort reform, portability to keep your plan if you change jobs, eliminate discrimination against pre-existing conditions, expand preventive health care and medical research, allow insurance policies to be sold across state lines, expand tax credits to allow folks to purchase private coverage, allow for more pooling, expand medical savings accounts, provide greater transparency, cut fraud and upgrade health information technology.
“There is no question that our health care system needs reform to reduce skyrocketing medical costs and improve access to quality health care for all Americans,” said Upton.
“The last thing we need to do is railroad through a massive new government program that does real and lasting damage to our current system (and all those covered under it) while piling an avalanche of debt on our children and grandchildren.”
Energy and Commerce narrowly passed H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 by a vote of 31-28 on July 31 – Upton voted against the government takeover of health care.
The amendments that were allowed to be considered Sept. 23 did not reflect any of the concerns raised by the public since July 31.
Although the Republican Rogers Amendment addressed issues the public has demanded action on (such as no deficit spending and no taxpayer assistance for illegal aliens), in addition to addressing many of the President’s concerns raised on Sept. 9, Chairman Waxman blocked a vote on the amendment.
The following quotations are from President Obama’s Sept. 9 speech to the Joint Session of Congress and the correlating legislative solutions included in the Republican Rogers Amendment:
“For those Americans who can’t get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin.”
Expand federal block grants for state high-risk pools that accept all patients, prohibit plans from imposing coverage caps.
“As one big group, customers will have greater leverage to bargain with insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage.”
Create association and small business health plans, individual membership associations.
“Without competition, the price of insurance goes up and the quality goes down.”
Allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines.
“Reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care.”
Enact comprehensive medical liability reform.
Give liability protection to Community Health Center volunteers.
“It will provide insurance to those who don’t (have it).”
Continued support for Community Health Centers.
Require states to cover 90 percent of those below 200 percent of FPL before they can expand eligibility under Medicaid and SCHIP
“If you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance, too.”
Expand and improve Health Savings Accounts:
Increase contribution limits for employers and employees.
Allow funds to be used to pay premiums.
Cover more preventive services.
Re-establish Health Opportunity Account demonstration programs.
Allow employers to offer a “defined contribution” for health plans, giving patients more choices, flexibility and portability.
“The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
Require citizenship verification for Medicaid beneficiaries.
“We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it.”
Allow employers to offer discounts for healthy behavior through wellness/prevention programs.
“Some can’t get insurance on the job.”
Allow for an employer to auto-enroll employees with an opt-out option, provide small businesses incentives to adopt such a program.
“This plan will finally offer you quality affordable choices.”
Allow Medicaid and SCHIP patients the option of a voucher to purchase private insurance.
“(The) system is currently full of waste and abuse.”
Expand funding for HHS OIG and Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program.
Establish health plan and provider transparency portals in each state.
“I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need.”
Prohibit comparative effectiveness research from being used to ration or deny care.
“Too many seniors to pay thousands of dollars a year out of their own pocket for prescription drugs.”
Provide tax incentives to purchase long-term care insurance.
“(We need) better coordination between teams of doctors,”
Create Accountable Care Organizations under Medicare.
“A woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne.”
Prohibit insurance companies from rescinding a policy unless there was proof of fraud,
“(Insurance companies) will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive.”
High-risk pools will not be allowed to impose caps on coverage.
“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.”
Repeal unused stimulus funding.
To view a list of Upton’s heath care principles, visit www.house.gov/upton.