I support health care reform because I believe that quality, affordable health care coverage should be a right, not a privilege available only to those who can afford it. I truly believe that a national system of health care can insure every American and cost us less than our current bloated and inefficient “sick care” system.
As the former Chairman of the Connecticut Public Health Committee, I have made the fight for increased access to health care for the people of Connecticut my defining mission as a public servant. In the State Senate, I wrote and passed legislation banning smoking from the workplace, ending overly aggressive bill collection practices by health care providers, and investing in low cost prescription drug programs. In 2005, I authored Connecticut’s landmark Stem Cell Investment Act - making Connecticut a leader in the push to find new cures for some of our most debilitating diseases.
In Congress, I start from a simple premise – our health care system is badly broken and incremental fixes will no longer suffice. The United States, the wealthiest nation in the world, has the highest health care spending per capita. In 2006, $2.1 trillion was spent on health care in the United States. The amount of money spent on health care is expected to increase by $1 trillion in 2014. Nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured – including 7.3 million children. Those that do have health insurance have seen their premiums almost double over the last decade.
In 2010, I supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which expands and enhances coverage to many Connecticut residents. It will improve coverage for 480,000 residents with existing insurance coverage and enable 12,000 uninsured people to obtain it. Additionally, it extends tax credits and other assistance to up to 128,000 families and 16,900 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
Strengthening the health care of seniors is also essential, and the Affordable Care Act improves Medicare for the nearly 600,000 beneficiaries in Connecticut by providing free preventive and wellness care, improving primary and coordinated care, and enhancing nursing home care. The bill also strengthened the Medicare Trust Fund by extending its solvency from 2017 to 2026. It will close the Medicare Part D "donut hole," which saw many seniors paying the full cost of their prescription drugs. A typical beneficiary who enters the "donut hole" will see save hundreds of dollars and over $3,000 by 2020.
Health care reform is the right thing to do for patients, and it’s the right thing to do for our economy. By reducing waste, improving efficiency with the use of health information technology, reducing medical errors, and creating a health care system that makes health coverage truly available to all, we can accomplish the goal of covering all Americans through a cost-effective system of care.
Additionally, during my time in Congress I worked to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization (SCHIP). Despite overwhelming support from the American people, President Bush vetoed bipartisan legislation to expand SCHIP to cover ten million new children nationwide, including 28,000 in Connecticut. SCHIP provides health care coverage for 6.6 million kids from low-income, working families. Connecticut’s SCHIP program, known as HUSKY B, currently covers thousands of kids in Connecticut.