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Durbin, T. Kennedy: Fighting GOP health insurance bill. On Senate floor today.


It's health care week in the Senate.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number two Democrat in the Senate is leading a charge against a health insurance bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.)....debate today


Washington, D.C. – TODAY, May 9 at 10:00 AM, Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Richard Durbin, and their Senate colleagues will join leading health advocacy organizations in opposition to the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S. 1955).

The bill has strong, widespread opposition because it includes damaging provisions to repeal existing laws that make health care coverage more affordable for millions of Americans. It sets up the barest of bare bones standards for benefits – sweeping aside requirements to cover cancer screening, well baby care, immunization, access to specialists and many other needed services.

Democrats have offered a comprehensive alternative S.1955. The Small Employers Health Benefits Plan (S.2510) would allow small businesses with up to 100 employees to band together for lower health care prices by pooling their purchasing power and spreading their risk over a large number of participants.







From Durbin's office..



Families USA Supports Durbin Alternative

[Washington, D.C.]- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) pointed to a study released today by one of the nation's foremost consumer health advocacy groups, Families USA, showing that a Republican health insurance plan could cost 3.9 million Illinoisans critical health insurance benefits that are currently guaranteed by state law.

The study shows that small business health insurance legislation introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), S.1955, which is scheduled to be considered by the Senate this week, would have a negative impact on millions of health care consumers all across the nation by bypassing state-mandated coverage for many important health needs.

“Far too many people cannot afford basic health insurance -- 46 million people nationwide and 1.8 million people in Illinois. Hundreds of thousands more are under-insured,��? said Durbin. "The Bush/Enzi bill will strip millions of Americans, even those currently insured, of basic health protections like mammographies, diabetes supplies, many cancer screenings and emergency health services."

Families USA supports legislation Durbin has introduced as an alternative to the Bush/Enzi bill. Durbin’s bill, the Small Employers Health Benefits Program (SEHBP), will give small businesses affordable choices among private health insurance plans and expand access to health care coverage for their employees without attempting to dodge state benefit mandates.

The Families USA study notes that the Enzi bill would supersede state law, effectively bypassing state-mandated coverage for many important health needs and allow insurance companies to define benefits packages.

In Illinois, this legislation would remove basic health care guarantees for 3,899,000 residents, including: cervical cancer screening, diabetic supplies/education, mammography screening, ovarian cancer screening, bone density screening, alcoholism treatment, colorectal screening, contraceptives, dental anesthesia, emergency services, infertility treatment, minimum mastectomy stay, mental health care (general), mental health (parity), off-label drug use, parental HIV testing, prescription inhalants, prostate cancer screening, and TMJ disorders.

In contrast, under Durbin’s bill, SEHBP enrollees will be covered by state consumer protection laws, including all state mandated benefits. Durbin's measure would allow small businesses across America to band together for lower health care prices by pooling their purchasing power and spreading their risk over a large number of participants. Employers would qualify for an annual tax credit to partially offset contributions on behalf of low-income employees.

The SEHBP proposal is modeled after the highly successful Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which has offered more than eight million government employees and retirees, including members of Congress and their staffs, a wide range of private health insurance choices for more than 40 years. SEHBP would give employees of small businesses access to a comparable range of private health plans.

Contrary to popular belief, Durbin noted that most of the people in Illinois who don’t have insurance are not out of work -- they work full time in small businesses struggling with double-digit premium increases and who cannot afford insurance for their workers. Congress must bring prices down to help these small business owners provide their employees with health insurance, but it does not have to be done at the expense of health benefits. This bill uses the power of the marketplace solve the price problem and still retains full coverage no matter where you live.

In addition to Families USA's support, Durbin's SEHBP proposal has been endorsed by an array of organizations including: the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the Consumers Union, the Federation of American Hospitals, the National Association of Community Health Centers, the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Small Business Majority, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, the National Mental Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Women¹s Law Center.

Durbin said he plans to offer his SEHBP proposal as an alternative to the Republican health insurance bill. Durbin has offered similar legislation in the past.

Families USA is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. For over 20 years, working at the national, state, and community levels, the group has earned a reputation as an effective voice for health care consumers.



This bill is the way Republicans have been taken away health care for America.They take away piece by piece.This is also the same way they are taken veterans health care.They think we do not see this tatic,BUT VETERANS HAVE WOKE UP

Insurance companies will eliminate coverage for preliminary screenings and tests and pay for
hospitalization/surgical procedures, etc. instead.
Who's running the show in
Washington anyway-The Insurance Companies or the
Doctors. Enough!

Please stop the GOP, from taking health care away from the masses.

I just wanted to tell you that me and my wife are Republicans and are from PA and have requested both Senators Santorum and Specter not to vote in favor of S-1955 and that we support S-2510,. I am a disabled Ameican, and we are both babyboomers and know how out of contol Health Insurance is now and we have sent a very clear message to our senators from PA that we are watching this Bill and the way that they vote will determine how we vote in future elections and if they support S-1955. Senator Santorum is now in a very close election so we hope he is paying attention to his fellow PA voters about this issue.

The problem folks is that this is not a Republican issue, nor is it a Democratic issue. The Democratics say the Republicans are up to no good, doing evil things. Come on do you really believe any politician would do evil, be wrong, and then advertise they are evil, and wrong. Durbin has been wrong in the past. Kennedy I won't even comment on. The issue is help those people that are U.S. Citizens, and to do this one way would be to have a law passed denying free medical treatment for illegal aliens, and with the billions saved support the elderly, and non insured.

Once again Durbin shows his radical hard left wing persona. This bill would not necessarily eliminate any of these things. What it would do is provide a quasi-exemption for ERISA to smaller companies. Right now my business can't offer insurance because there are over 1000 state mandates for non-ERISA exempt plans. Those requiements include mandatory coverage of things like Viagra, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and mandatory hospital stays for dozens of conditions (why do a bunch of lawyers in Springfield think they know more about medicine than doctors?). Yes these state plans cover good things like pre-natal care and well baby. But so do most ERISA exempt plans (at least the ones that most employeers would to offer to their employees- otherwise they risk alienating their employees). The left hates this bill because it robs local democratic politicans of winning (but very costly) issues that they themselves don't have to face (State employee and legislator pension health plans are ERISA exempt)

After receiving a message from the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life asking volunteers for help, I sent a email to TN Senators Alexander and Frist urging them to vote NO on this bill. I received a canned reply from Senator Frist telling me how proud he was of having helped it pass in committee!! I replied that I was hardly pleased to get his message since I had asked him to vote NO!! I also told him that the bill might benefit insurance companies, but certainly would not benefit women (like my mother-in-law whose breast cancer was caught early in a yearly mammogram)!

I hope that all of the people who are posting these thoughtful and correct comments are calling their Senate offices this week. The vote will be Wednesday night or some time Thursday - so there is still time. Call the Senate switch board (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator. Then call back and ask for the other one. Every vote will count on this and your voices are needed, so tell your friends and family to do the same.

"Once again Durbin shows his radical hard left wing persona." This is the kind of garbage that most people are getting sick of. Why label Durbin as if he were some kind of anti-American freak. The un-American approach is labeling people with absurd claims such as this. Wake up and realize the deterioration in this country on so many issues regarding working class, middle income Americans. Health insurance - or the lack thereof, is being destroyed by pure corporate greed AND a total lack of respect for most Americans.

The current administration is systematically raping the economy and most Americans in favor of the wealthiest "elite".

I am a small business owner and independent voter that does not give a damn about party affiliation. All I care about is politicians that truly serve the people that elected them. Throw out the lobbyists and special interest groups and get back to what government was supposed to be when this country was first founded. Do that and I predict the health insurance crisis could be solved within a few years - along with many other problems MOST Americans now face.

This is a horrible bill which will raise insurance premiums for those who need it most, while cutting benefits. Only the insurance industry will benefit from this bill. I've contacted my Senators but both are Republican and support it. It seems now that the members of Congress only support those bills that they are paid to support rather than enacting legislation that is for the benefit of the people.

I'm confused here. I thought the Democrats, especially Ted, OPPOSED this bill. If that is the case, why did EVERY Democrat vote FOR it??? Now, how is it you defeat a bill by voting it into law???

I was wrong. I made a mistake. I misunderstood. I apologize. Fifty lashes with a cat o' nine-tails for me. Looks like the vote I saw earlier was a vote on a cloture motion. I didn't realize that until I made the post here.

The problem of reception Medical and health insurance for unemployeds interests WBR LeoP

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 9, 2006 8:31 AM.

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