Update from Joe: Turning the Tide on Health Reform
Last week, House Republicans voted in lock step to repeal patients’ rights, to increase taxes on small businesses, and toraise out-of-pocket health care costs for America’s seniors. I wanted to bring you up to date on my efforts to stand up for you and against this assault against your rights.
GOP Assault on Patients’ Rights Would Hurt Eastern Connecticut
Republican wholesale repeal of health care reform would erase hard-fought benefits that all Americans are already enjoying. If Washington Republicans have their way, insurance companies will again be able to deny coverage based on a person’s illness or disability, the Medicare “donut hole” would again cost seniors thousands of dollars in prescription drug costs, and small businesses would lose thousands of dollars in tax credits at the same time they are filing their 2010 IRS returns.
In eastern Connecticut alone, repealing patients’ rights would result in:
- 13,900 small businesses losing the tax credits
- almost 2,000 people under age 26 are being dropped from their parents’ health plans
- 110,000 seniors losing free preventive care such as annual checkups, cancer screenings and smoking cessation.
Despite Republican Speaker John Boehner’s promises of an open, cooperative Congress, he ramrodded the legislation to a floor vote in a matter of days after taking office. In an effort to protect small businesses and patients in eastern Connecticut, I spoke before the House Rules Committee to oppose this damaging move. In demonstrating how wrong-headed this approach is, I pointed out that more than 4,700 employers, including Fortune 500 companies from across the country and many from Connecticut, have signed up for the health care bill’s early retiree reinsurance program which will protect benefits for over 55 retirees and help companies control benefit costs.
Additionally, every single one of the 50 states (headed by both Republican and Democrat governors) has signed up for the program to stabilize public employee benefit costs and provide relief for state taxpayers. The record is clear – U.S. employers are voting with their feet, by signing up for this program they are taking advantage of the cost savings that come from the patients’ rights bill.
House GOP would keep their health care coverage while denying it to Americans
Pointing out these obvious pro-jobs benefits did not stop Republicans from forcing a repeal vote as one of their first legislative actions. In fact, Republican leaders voted down a motion to prohibit patients’ rights repeal unless a majority of the House and Senate waived their own access to Congressional health care. A week earlier they even voted down a public disclosure of which Members of Congress have enrolled in the Congressional health insurance plan. The hypocrisy is breathtaking!
Despite the relentless campaign of misinformation, new statistics show that health care reform is delivering affordable health care to working Americans. Major U.S. health insurance companies are reporting a substantial increase in small businesses offering health insurance to their employees. “Why,” you may ask? Because the tax cut included in the health care reform package, offered as an incentive to small businesses to provide health care for their employees, is working! I have heard directly from some of those employers such as a family doctor from Herbron who reported to my office that she has calculated a 4,000 dollar credit her family practice will receive for the 2010 tax year. By passing this repeal in the House of Representatives, Washington Republicans instead voted for a tax increase on hard working small employers like this family doctor from Hebron.
Public Opinion is Shifting as the Facts Emerge
Although this harmful measure passed in the House, there is good news. My efforts — and those of my colleagues in Congress — to tell the truth about this bill are making a difference in recent polls. In the last week, polls now show more Americans oppose outright repeal than support it – a significant shift in public opinion. This shift provides Senate Democrats and President Obama a stronger platform to resist any final passage of repeal.
Your help in last fall’s election gave me a voice to tell the truth about the benefits of health care reform in the new Congress. Thank you for helping move the American public and protecting America’s patients.