I strongly believe that all Americans should be guaranteed access to affordable, high-quality health care.
I strongly believe that all Americans should have guaranteed access to affordable, high quality health care. Unfortunately, skyrocketing health care prices and shady insurance company practices have made health care unaffordable for millions of Americans. Health insurance premiums doubled between 1999 and 2009, for example - increasing much faster than income or inflation. The rising cost of health insurance was one of the reasons that tens of millions of uninsured Americans didn't have health insurance. Another major reason many Americans lacked health insurance was their inability to buy insurance policies at any price because they had pre-existing health conditions that insurnace companies didn't want to cover.
That's why I was a strong supporter of health care reform in the 111th Congress. I joined a majority of Members of the House of Representatives in voting to approve a landmark health care reform bill (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA) on March 21, 2010.
The House and Senate both approved legislation (the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010) to strengthen the new law on March 25, 2010. I voted for this legislation as well.
As I said then:
"I believe that this legislation will go a long way toward making quality health insurance more affordable for all Americans – and do it without busting the federal budget.
"The new laws will end insurance industry practices like discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions, dropping coverage when a policy-holder becomes seriously ill, and capping annual and life-time benefits. That will provide security to middle-class families. Too many middle-class families are just one layoff or illness away from losing their health insurance coverage.
"The health care reform laws will extend health insurance coverage to 30 million Americans who are currently uninsured and provide tax credits to help millions of Americans pay for health insurance.
"These reforms will provide stability to middle-class families. Insurers across the country have been raising premiums by as much as 39 percent. Families just can’t keep paying rising costs like that. By ending the insurance company practice of placing annual and life-time limits on benefits – and by capping out-of-pocket expenses for families – the new reform law will dramatically reduce the number of families who end up broke or bankrupt after serious illnesses (more than half of all bankruptcies in this country involve households with high medical bills). The new law will also make sure that people’s health care dollars go where they’re supposed to – medical care for policy-holders – and not into advertising budgets or executive bonuses.
"The new laws will also close the Medicare prescription drug 'donut hole' and extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by nearly 10 years.
"Finally, the new health reform laws will increase competition in the health insurance industry – and bring down health care costs for households and small businesses – by creating a health insurance exchange where insurance companies will have to compete for your premium dollars. Up until now, insurance companies could raise rates as much as they pleased because there wasn’t enough competition in most health insurance markets across the country. The new laws make sure that there are more choices for families and small businesses – and more competition to keep prices down. In addition, small businesses will now be able to offer good health care benefits to their employees because they will be able to combine their purchasing power with other small businesses to get the same lower insurance rates that big corporations have historically negotiated.
"As the new laws take effect in the coming years, they will rapidly become clear that most of the dire predictions that were made about all the horrible things health care reform would do were distortions, exaggerations, misinformation, or outright lies."
A number of the health care reform laws' provisions have already taken effect - most notably the insurance reforms that require insurance companies to cover young adults on their parents' policies and prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions. But the main provisions of the Affordable Care Act won't take effect until 2014, so health insurance costs are continuing to rise. If health care reform works as planned, health insurance premiums will stop rising so rapidly once the Affordable Care Act is fully phased in after 2014.
The links below provide information about the 2010 health care reform laws – from brief summaries to the complete text of the legislation and background information on health care costs and what would have happened if Congress hadn’t enacted these comprehensive health care reforms.
Click here for a summary of what the Affordable Care Act will do
Click here for information on how the health care reform law will affect residents of Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District
Click here for information on the impact of the health care reform legislation on the federal budget
Click here for other information about the health care reform legislation
Click here for information on why doing nothing would have cost us much more
On January 19th, 2011, the House passed H.R. 2, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
I voted against H.R 2. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will take power away from private insurance companies and give it back to American consumers – and it make health care better and more affordable in the process. Repeal of health care reform would not only accelerate future health insurance cost increases, but it would allow the insurance companies to return to their old practices of abusing and discriminating against American consumers. Since then, House Republicans have voted to defund or repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act dozens of times.
Fortunately, Senate Democrats are committed to blocking the bill in the Senate, and the President has said that he would veto any bill to repeal health care reform. Consequently, H.R. 2 died when the 112th Congress ended in January 2013, and subsequent House-passed bills have gone nowhere in the Senate. I, too, will continue to oppose the misguided repeal of health care reform.