House Releases Draft on Health Care Reform

Jun 19, 2009 Issues: Health Care

(Washington D.C.)- Rep. Sander Levin, a member of the Ways and Means committee with jurisdiction over health care legislation, made the following statement on the Draft Legislation released today by three House Committees (Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor).

“The discussion draft contains considerable detail in order to stimulate the fullest possible input from the public and all interested parties,” said Rep. Levin.  “We will accelerate the efforts to date to improve upon and resolve all key aspects of reform, including changes in the payment structure aimed at reducing costs while enhancing quality and coordination.”

“If you like your current health plan, you will be able to keep it.  But it is clear that our nation wants us to fix what’s not working by reducing costs, increasing prevention, improving quality, and covering uninsured Americans,” said Rep. Levin.

The key provisions 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 you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it.
• For individuals who either aren’t currently covered, or want 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.

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 job.
• Prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more based on pre-existing conditions.
• Caps out-of-pocket expenses and guarantees coverage that won’t leave people in danger of financial hardship due to medical expenses.

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 coverage.
• 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 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.
• Simplifies paperwork and other administrative burdens. Patients, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, providers and employers would all encounter a streamlined, less confusing, more consumer friendly system.