Castor Statement On Energy and Commerce Committee’s Passage Of Landmark America’s Affordable Health Choices Act
Congresswoman Kathy Castor released the following statement today regarding Energy and Commerce’s passage of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act: “America’s health care system is broken. Health care is too expensive. Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of premiums. Insurance companies rake in exorbitant profits every year. Meanwhile families with insurance and families without insurance are suffering.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor released the following statement today regarding Energy and Commerce’s passage of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act:
“America’s health care system is broken. Health care is too expensive. Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of premiums. Insurance companies rake in exorbitant profits every year. Meanwhile families with insurance and families without insurance are suffering.
“We are tackling the most significant health care reform legislation in decades and I am standing up for our seniors, our children and every Floridian who knows all too well about the high cost of health care.
“With passage of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, insurance companies won’t be allowed to turn you away – even if you have a serious health problem. You won’t have to pay co-pays or deductibles for preventative care. If you lose your job, you won’t lose your health insurance coverage.
“Nothing in this bill will force you to drop your current coverage. Rest assured, if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. If you aren’t covered or want to consider other options, you can consider the health care exchange. A new non-profit public option will create competition, lower costs and keep insurance companies honest.
“Floridians win. With the passage of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, approximately 92,100 seniors in the Tampa Bay area would avoid the Medicare ‘doughnut hole’ and be better able to afford prescription drugs. And roughly 561,000 in the area will gain access to quality health insurance.
“Meaningful health insurance reform is long overdue in this country. I look forward to the day when families don’t have to worry about the cost of health insurance, when everyone can see a doctor when they need to and when nobody is forced to make a choice between putting food on the table and buying prescription drugs.”
Castor successfully added amendments to the health insurance reform bill, including:
* An amendment that will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate payment rates with pharmaceutical manufacturers for prescription drugs under the public option. The amendment will require the Secretary to create a formulary – or price structure – for drugs under the public option. The Congressional Budget Office advised that a formulary with pharmaceutical manufacturers will help lower the cost of the health care reform bill.
* A provision that protects seniors and cracks down on misleading Medicare Advantage marketing techniques. Castor has seen first hand the advertisements and scams that target seniors and coerce them into signing up for plans that aren’t in their best interest. Private insurance agents used high-pressure sales tactics, unlicensed brokers and misleading sales presentations while receiving outrageous commissions for each person they enrolled. This amendment protects seniors and restores power to the states to oversee marketing tactics. Castor’s amendment returns to the states authority to investigate and regulate deceptive Medicare Advantage marketing practices.
* A measure that ensures victims of traumatic injury have access to the best life-saving trauma care where and when they need it. Trauma is the leading cause of death for children and adults under age 44. Reauthorizing the Trauma Center Grant Program stabilizes our trauma centers and ensures high-quality trauma care is immediately and readily available for the severely injured at hospitals such as Tampa General. Grants will be available to provide funding for round-the-clock availability of specialized doctors and equipment to cut down on overcrowding and long wait times in emergency rooms.
Castor advocates for Florida on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She sought the position so she could focus on issues such as energy and health care, some of the biggest issues facing Floridians and this country. The committee is writing and reviewing some of the most significant legislation in decades.