Collinwood residents deserve access to affordable health care

Imagine living next to world-renowned health care facilities yet being unable to access medical care. Imagine being forced to choose between purchasing food and life-sustaining prescriptions.  This is reality for thousands of uninsured or under-insured residents in my Congressional District. There may soon be a new reality.

Similarly, Americans dreaming of more cost effective health care instead of spiraling health care costs may soon have an answer as well. I am proud that the Affordable Health Care for America Act reforms the private insurance industry to ensure that working class citizens will never pay more than 12% of their income on premiums. Those with incomes of 400% of poverty or less, approximately $43K for an individual or $88K for a family of four, will receive a subsidy to assist with the cost of their premiums. More than 163,000 households in my Congressional District will benefit from this subsidy. No longer will income determine access to care or treatment.

Americans asked for a cure to private insurers' inconsistent and expensive insurance plans. The United States House of Representatives has offered a remedy in the form of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  In the House's proposal:

You will not be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. If you develop a new illness or condition, you will not be dropped from your plan. Pre-existing conditions may include diabetes, hypertension or high blood pressure. Insurance companies have even deemed acne, asthma, domestic violence, c-sections and pregnancy to be pre-existing conditions.

There will be no co-pay for preventative care. Annual preventive care appointments, such as physicals, help  sustain good health and prevent many illnesses. These doctors' visits will be completely covered under the House of Representatives' proposal.

Your annual medical expenses will be capped. There will be no lifetime limit on the amount of coverage provided. You will no longer worry about whether necessary medical procedures are covered by insurance.

Seniors will enjoy a stronger Medicare system. Under the House's proposal, seniors will experience a number of improvements in services. Over time, Medicare Part D’s ‘doughnut hole’ will be eliminated and seniors will receive a 50% discount on some brand name drugs immediately after passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

You will not lose your right to choose insurance. The public plan will serve as a back-up for private insurance. If you like your insurance plan, keep it. If you are uninsured or lose your private insurance, then you may use public insurance.

More information about the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act can be found on my Internet Health Care Hub at The Hub will be continuously updated as Congress deliberates health care reform.

Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey said the true "test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, [and] the needy." In the wake of health care reform, I hope history awards America with a passing grade.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 10:02 AM, 12.10.2009