Talk about health care reform is one thing--what is actually in the House or Senate biil is another. The three House committees working on health care on Friday released their unified draft legislation.
Subject: HEALTH NEWS: HOUSE DEMS UNVEIL DISCUSSION DRAFT FOR QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AMERICANS
BILL TEXT AVAILABLE HERE:
UNITED STATES CONGRESS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 19, 2009
House Democrats Unveil Discussion Draft for Providing Quality,
Affordable Health Care for All Americans
Proposal Embodies President Obama's Goals of Lower Costs, More Choices,
and Access to Quality, Affordable Care
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the chairmen of the three committees with
jurisdiction over health policy in the U.S. House of Representatives
unveiled their discussion draft for health care reform that would reduce
out-of-control costs, improve choices and competition for consumers and
expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. The
discussion draft would guarantee that almost every American is covered
by a health care plan that is both affordable and offers quality,
standard benefits by 2019.
Consistent with President Obama's goals, the draft builds on what works
in the current health care system by strengthening employer-provided
care, while fixing what is broken with it. The draft would cover more
Americans than any other proposal released to date.
Over the past several months House Committees on Education and Labor,
Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce have been working together as
one committee - an unprecedented approach - to develop one proposal for
health care reform. In releasing their discussion draft today, the
chairmen reiterated that they will continue to seek the input of all
members and stakeholders during hearings and markups in the coming
"President Obama issued a call to action to reform our nation's health
care system and the House Committees have answered in an unprecedented
way, working as one to produce a draft that will help control costs,
preserve and expand coverage and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid," said
U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), the Chairman of the Ways and Means
Committee Chairman. "In the coming weeks, we will continue working with
our colleagues and stakeholders to move this draft forward so we can
create a new day in American health care that will benefit our nation
for generations to come."
"This draft sets out a very practical and uniquely American proposal,"
said U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), the Chairman of the Energy and
Commerce Committee. "It fulfills President Obama's commitment to
provide quality, affordable health care for all. Nothing is more
important to the long term health of the American people."
"Today marks a historic moment in America's urgent quest to fix our
broken health insurance system," said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA),
the Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. "Our discussion draft
is the first step in delivering on the fundamental change that President
Obama has called for, and that families and businesses need, by building
a truly American solution to reduce costs, offer real choice, and
guarantee affordable, quality health care for all."
"We are beginning an important process that I am confident will make
history. The discussion draft is the first step towards creating a
distinctly American Solution to our health care crisis. This bill
includes a public option, which will provide the American people with a
real choice," said U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the Chairman Emeritus
of the Energy and Commerce Committee. This public option will lower
costs and establish consumer protections that private companies have
refused to commit to. The cooperation between Chairmen Miller, Rangel
and Waxman is unprecedented and it is my pleasure to be working with
them. We are committed to working with all the members in writing a bill
that will provide quality, affordable care for all but also prevent the
next great economic crisis we face."
"Today's draft is the result of cooperation between members of the
House. The bill provides affordable, quality health care for all," said
U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), the Chairman of the Ways and Means
Subcommittee on Health. "The discussion draft builds on what works. It
keeps employer-sponsored insurance, makes market reforms, and limits
catastrophic costs. The draft improves the Medicare program;
eliminating co-pays for preventive care and the 'donut hole.'"
"While this country has the best medical care in the world, fewer and
fewer people are able to access it and more and more people can't afford
it," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) the Chairman of Energy and
Commerce Subcommittee on Health. "Today we are taking a big step towards
historic health care reform for all Americans. History is not often made
in a day and it certainly won't be made without continued hard work, but
this plan is a big step on a truly meaningful issue. A new day for
health care is now closer in sight."
"We are not going to have economic growth until our health care system
is fixed. Nearly a fifth of our economy is spent on health care, and
while our world competitors continue to offer more efficient care,
America lags behind," said U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), the Chairman of
the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee. "Insured
Americans bear the heavy financial burden for those who cannot afford
coverage and millions of struggling families cannot meet the rising
costs. This plan is about freeing financial waste within our system and
getting more value for our dollar so that we can afford to cover the 46
million uninsured Americans and freeing up money to be invested toward
out nation's economic growth."
The key principles of the House Democratic discussion draft for health
care include, among other things:
Increasing choice and competition. First, the proposal would protect and
improve consumers' choices.
* If an individual likes their current plan, they would be able
to keep it.
* For individuals who either aren't currently covered, or wanted
to enroll in a new health care plan, the proposal would establishes a
health care exchange where consumers can select from a menu of
affordable, quality health care options: either a new public health
insurance plan or a plan offered by private insurers. People will have
similar choices that Members of Congress have.
* This new marketplace would reduce costs, create competition
that leads to better care for every American, and keep private insurers
honest. Patients and doctors would have control over decisions about
their health care, instead of insurance companies.
Giving Americans peace of mind. Second, the proposal would ensure that
Americans have portable, secure health care plans - so that they
wouldn't lose care if their employer drops their plan or they lose their
* Every American who receives coverage through the exchange will
have a plan that includes standardized, comprehensive and quality health
* It would end increases in premiums or denials of care based on
pre-existing conditions, age, race or gender.
* The proposal would also eliminate co-pays for preventative care,
cap out-of-pocket expenses and guarantee catastrophic coverage that
protects every American from bankruptcy.
Improving quality of care for every American. Third, the proposal would
ensure that Americans of all ages, from young children to retirees have
access to greater quality of care by focusing on prevention, wellness
and strengthening programs that work.
* Guarantees that every child in America will have health care
coverage that includes dental and vision benefits.
* Provides better preventative and wellness care. Every health
care plan offered through the exchange would cover preventative care.
* Grows the health care workforce to ensure that more doctors and
nurses are available to provide quality care as more Americans get
* Strengthens Medicare and Medicaid so that seniors and low-income
Americans receive better quality of care and see lower prescription drug
costs and out-of-pocket expenses.
Ensuring shared responsibility. Fourth, the draft would ensure that
individuals, employers and the federal government all share
responsibility for a quality and affordable health care system.
* Employers who currently offer coverage would be able to
continue offering coverage to workers. Employers who don't currently
offer coverage could choose to pay for their workers to gain health care
coverage through the exchange or pay a penalty.
* All individuals would be required to get coverage, either
through their employer or the exchange, or pay a penalty.
* The federal government would provide affordability credits,
available on a sliding scale for low- and middle-income individuals and
families to make premiums affordable and reduce cost-sharing.
Protecting consumers and reduces waste, fraud and abuse. Fifth, the
proposal would put the interests of consumers first, protect them from
any problems in getting and keeping health care coverage, and reduce
waste, fraud and abuse.
* Provides complete transparency in plans in the health exchange
so that consumers have the clear, complete information needed to select
the plan that best meets their needs.
* Establishes Consumer Advocacy Offices as part of the exchange
to protect consumers, answer questions and assist with any problems
related to their plans.
* Would identify and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse by
simplifying paperwork and other administrative burdens. Patients,
doctors, nurses, insurance companies, providers and employers would all
encounter a streamlined, less confusing, more consumer friendly system.
To view a complete summary of the discussion draft, click here
To view detailed fact sheets and more information on what the health
care reform discussion draft means for American families, click here