Fitzpatrick Looks Forward to Healthcare Reforms

Jul 12, 2012 Issues: Health

LANGHORNE, Pa - Congressman Fitzpatrick issued the following statement and outline of reform proposals upon yesterday’s vote repealing the Affordable Care Act:

“Yesterday, I voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it is necessary that we re-affirm our position in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling which clearly stated that the law is funded by a mandated tax on the backs of America’s middle and lower income families.

The Affordable Care Act contained several provisions which I support, such as not denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and permitting parents to purchase insurance for their kids who are graduating into a difficult economy.  As a cancer survivor, the prospect of losing health insurance due to a pre-existing condition is a real-life fear that thousands of American’s face every day.  As the father of six children, two of whom are teenaged daughters working in summer jobs, giving parents an additional tool to support their children in this economy is essential.

While I support repealing the entire bill, steps should be taken to guarantee that, where we find common ground, we should keep those provisions intact.  Looking forward, it is critical that we take a measured, step-by-step approach to implementing proven reforms that work.  Many solutions have already been introduced in Congress which I have co-sponsored.  These bills get to the heart of improving healthcare affordability and access.  Our time is best spent carefully reviewing these drafted proposals in order to deliver results for the American people.   Just as importantly, these proposals require no government-run healthcare mandates and no new tax increases to implement.”

The following reforms are a step in the right direction:

Consensus Reforms in the Affordable Health Act:

Coverage for those with pre-existing conditions:  Any person who applies for health insurance coverage, whether as part of a group, association, or as an individual should be offered a policy.  Health care should be accessible for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses.  (Co-sponsor of H.R. 4242 Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Americans Act of 2012.)

Allow children aged 26 and under to stay on their parents insurance:  Insurance should extend dependent coverage for children/dependents up to 26 years of age, provided the child is not married, and currently resides in the same state, with exceptions for full time college students.  (Co-sponsor of H.R. 4242 Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Americans Act of 2012.)

Increasing Competition and Buying Power of Consumers:

Association Health Plans:  Allow small business owners to band together to purchase health insurance for themselves, their employees and their families at a lower cost.  (Co-sponsor of H.R. 397, Reform Americans Can Afford Act of 2011, and, H.R. 1050, Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2011.)  

Purchasing Insurance Across State Lines:   Individuals must be permitted to compare insurance plans across the country—rather than only in their state—and select an affordable health plan that is right for them. Such a system could also generate more competition among insurance providers, potentially lowering the cost to consumers by increased competition. (Co-sponsor of H.R. 4242 Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Americans Act of 2012, and, H.R. 371 Health Care Choice Act.)

Private Ownership of Health Insurance Policies: The most recent Census Bureau data show that enrollment in employer plans collectively accounts for 90 percent of all private coverage.  Health insurance plans should be portable to individuals and families. (Co-sponsor of H.R. 4242 Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Americans Act of 2012, and, H.R. 371 Health Care Choice Act.)

Fixing the Legal System:

Medical Liability Reform:  Too many of our nation’s physicians are practicing defensive medicine out of fear of potential lawsuits.  Defensive medicine adds over $100 billion in extra costs to health care each year according to the American Medical Association and contributes to the rising health insurance premiums shouldered by consumers.  Medical liability reform legislation will safeguard patients' access to care by ensuring that talented health care professionals don’t leave the state out of fear of abusive lawsuits.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are ‘without merit.’  These suits drive up the cost of health care for all Americans and drive many experienced medical professionals out of business.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the practice of defensive medicine costs the health care industry between $70 billion and $126 billion annually.  In 2003, HHS found that “the litigation system is threatening health care quality for all Americans as well as raising the cost of health care for all Americans.” (Co-sponsor of H.R. 5, HEALTH Act.)  

Providing for Those In Need:

Community Health Centers:  Community Health Centers provide crucial medical care to underserved areas.  We need to make sure that qualified medical professionals are able to donate their time in these areas without the worry of costly liability insurance.  The federal government needs to take a look at programs that are working, programs like the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership which is a collaborative of Bucks County’s six acute care hospitals, the Bucks County Department of Health and the Bucks County Medical Society to deliver care.  (Co-sponsor of H.R. 1629, the Family Health Care Accessibility Act of 2011.)