Posted by: zhak39 | October 31, 2009

Equal Time

Some time ago I posted (in comments) the complete text regarding health care reform via newsletter from one of our North Carolina senators and in response to a letter I sent both senators.  Our other senator sent this  reply to the same correspondence.

October 28, 2009

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Community Health Insurance Option in health care reform. I greatly appreciate learning your view on this important issue.

As you know, the President and Congress have made health care reform a top priority. Each year, costs associated with our current health care system increase, without a corresponding increase in the quality of health outcomes. North Carolinians are rightly demanding that Congress do something about our nation’s health care system. Premiums for employer-provided coverage have doubled in the past nine years, growing three times faster than wages. Health insurance costs for self-employed workers, many of whom own small businesses, have risen 74 percent since 2001. On our current trajectory, health care premiums for the average family will rise to nearly $25,000 by the year 2016. North Carolinians are struggling to afford health insurance coverage, and one in five North Carolinians has no health insurance. Our nation’s unprecedented economic crisis has made it even more difficult for working families to manage medical costs while making ends meet. Without a doubt, our health care system is in dire need of repair.

The Community Health Insurance Option, which was included in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s health care reform bill, is commonly referred to as the Senate’s version of a public option. This option is part of the Affordable Health Choices Act, which was reported out of the HELP Committee on July 15, 2009, with my support. Specifically, the Community Health Insurance Option will serve as one backstop option for individuals without access to affordable coverage. In order to ensure that the Community Health Insurance Option competes on a level playing field, I insisted that it meet federal and state solvency requirements, that payment rates be negotiated, rather than tied to Medicare as some suggested, and that doctors and hospitals be free to choose whether to participate. This bill will provide stable coverage for every American, and a pre-existing condition will no longer prevent someone from getting the health coverage they need. Most importantly, this bill ensures that every American has an affordable option for health care insurance.

While I support the Community Health Insurance Option as a backstop insurance option for individuals who do not otherwise have access to affordable coverage, some have suggested alternative plans that may acheive the same goals. In particular, there has been a lot of discussion regarding establishment of non-profit health insurance co-ops or withholding the establishment of a public option unless health insurance costs meet specified reduction targets. I believe these ideas deserve full consideration as possible solutions.

Without action, health care costs will continue to soar, endangering our economic security. As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, I am working with my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle and stakeholders throughout North Carolina. I have prioritized expanding preventive services, strengthening the health care workforce, and modernizing the health care system to reduce costs. I strongly support the goals of this legislation. I have taken the concerns of North Carolinians into account during discussions over the last several months as this bill has moved through committee and toward the Senate floor. Congress’s objective is to send final legislation to the President that will bring stability and security to all Americans.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.



Kay R. Hagan

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