The following Guest Opinion from Dem PA-08 U.S. House Rep Patrick Murphy appeared in the print edition of the Bucks County Courier Times last Sunday; for some reason I cannot comprehend, the paper didn’t think it was important enough to publish online at that miracle of technology (snark) known as phillyburbs.com…
A Bucks County woman recently lost her job as a copy editor, along with the health insurance that covered her and her husband. She shopped around on her own, but was turned down by insurers because of a pre-existing condition: pregnancy.
Instead of celebrating this wonderful news, they’re terrified about how they’ll afford maternity care without coverage. I support health insurance reform because, in a nation like ours, this should never happen to middle-class families.
Over the past eight months, I’ve listened to thousands of constituents – doctors, patients, folks with insurance and without – about reform, and I’ve heard the same question repeatedly: How will this impact my family? How will it affect Medicare? How are we going to pay for it? I’d like to address those questions and explain to you why I support the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
First, this bill finally prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
What does that mean? If your job offers health insurance, you get coverage regardless of your health. But today, if you aren’t offered coverage through work, or become unemployed and need to buy your own, you’re turned down if you’re pregnant, have cancer, or are diabetic, among other reasons.
Mr. Bogie from Tinicum (Township, Bucks County) told me of his otherwise healthy wife who was denied coverage because she took blood pressure medication. An insurer can also charge higher rates because of those conditions or a host of other reasons, including being female or being a victim of domestic violence. Reform would put a stop to this, too.
Many folks who have insurance report that they’re happy with it, but too often that coverage is taken away when it’s needed most. Today, an insurer can look for any excuse to terminate your plan should you become “too expensive.”
Jay Doroshow from Langhorne never expected to be uninsured, but as soon as he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, his insurance company kicked him off his plan. Reform would end this practice, putting you, not insurance company CEOs, in the driver’s seat. As the American Medical Association said in its endorsement, reform “empowers patient and physician decision making.”
What about folks on Medicare? Reform opponents have targeted their worst scare tactics at seniors, when in fact reform strengthens Medicare and improves benefits. It finally closes the “donut hole” that leaves seniors like David Jones from Warminster paying over $4,000 out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. David worked hard and saved his entire life, but when he developed Crohn’s disease, his medication bills began piling up; he now falls into the donut hole by April every year.
Seniors will also have access to lower-cost prescription drugs, as the government will now be able to negotiate with manufacturers to get better deals on medications. And Medicare beneficiaries will have free preventive care services to help them stay healthy and active. This is why the AARP has wholeheartedly endorsed this bill.
The bill also cracks down on Medicare fraud that drains billions from the system. It includes a bipartisan bill I introduced, the Improve Act, which closes a major loophole in Medicare fraud. My legislation finally gives law enforcement the tools they need to track down scammers and protect taxpayer dollars.
Finally, I support reform because the bill meets two basic requirements I laid out months ago: it does not add a dime to the federal deficit – in fact, it reduces the deficit by $129 billion – and it lowers our national health care spending. Pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other industry groups – who will see millions of new customers – are contributing hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for insurance reform. And a portion of the bill is paid for with a surcharge on only those with annual incomes over one million dollars, which would impact less than 0.3 percent of households.
It has been 16 years since Congress’ last attempt at reform. Since then, over 700,000 people have died because they lacked access to affordable coverage, and premiums continue to rise four times faster than wages. We simply cannot afford to fail again.
For these reasons, I stand with nurses (ANA), doctors (American Medical Association), the AARP, and my constituents to support long-overdue health insurance reform.
To contact Congressman Murphy, click here.