After Massachusetts Election, Health Insurance Reform Remains Critical to Economic Growth

( – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)

A lot of things may have changed in light of the Massachusetts special election upset Tuesday, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the health insurance crisis in America. We must address this crisis.

 Health care costs are unsustainable; they’re still crushing families, small businesses and large companies. When people lose their jobs they lose their health insurance. People with jobs and who want coverage but find out they have a pre-existing condition still can’t get coverage. Businesses large and small come before Congress every day and tell us how they’re going to have to drop coverage for their employees or go out of business.

All of these problems remain, and so does our need to address them.

President Obama and a majority in both the House and Senate remain committed to enacting fiscally responsible health insurance reform that provides greater affordability, accessibility and accountability to American families and businesses. With the loss of the 60th vote in the Senate last Tuesday, we are exploring the means by which we can enact needed reform, but we are not backing away from our commitment to a responsible and balanced bill.

The election result in Massachusetts in part reflected the tremendous fear and frustration Americans understandably feel as the impacts of the worst recession in generations continue. Americans desperately want and need to see new jobs created, small businesses need help, our financial system requires new accountability, and we must reduce the budget deficit.

Despite stagnation in the Senate caused by the relentless and undemocratic opposition of the Republican minority, this Congress has been focused on jobs and the economy. In addition to the successful and critical American Recovery Act passed last year that is delivering millions of dollars to our community to create jobs, the House passed a second jobs bill just before Christmas that I helped to write to help save the jobs of teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and to put people back to work rebuilding our infrastructure. The Senate could not take up our bill because of Republican filibustering. We will continue to fight for new jobs and investments in our country.

But the economy and health reform are connected, and we can and must focus on both at the same time. Reforming health insurance laws is key to whether employers will hire or not. Reports show that reforming health insurance will create millions of jobs over the next decade and will help us reduce the deficit by billions of dollars.

Tragically, Republicans in Washington decided to become the ‘Party of No’. They announced early last year that they would do everything in their power to stop President Obama from enacting health insurance reform in the hopes of weakening the President’s standing. Senator-elect Scott Brown from Massachusetts has said “no” to health reform, even though Massachusetts is the only state in this country with affordable health care for all – a law that Sen. Brown supported. Their reform is similar to what we are trying to provide for all Americans, and it is overwhelmingly popular.

But saying “no” is not a solution for America. Saying “no” doesn’t help one worker keep his or her health insurance. Saying “no” doesn’t stop insurance companies from denying children coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Saying “no” doesn’t cure the health care problems that economists and business leaders agree are dragging our nation’s economy down and hurting our international competitiveness.

We recognize that voters in Massachusetts, like millions of other Americans, are upset about the economy and about parts of the health reform bill and special privileges that the Senate put in their bill for Nebraska, for example, and others. Those privileges have no place in this effort and should be removed from a final bill.

The path to reform has been made more difficult by Tuesday’s election, but the need for reform has become no less urgent.

What the House has been fighting for, and what we will continue to fight for, are key reforms to deliver quality, affordable health care for the American people that offer security for families and businesses across the country.

Also crossposted at Chairman Miller's personal blog.

7 thoughts on “After Massachusetts Election, Health Insurance Reform Remains Critical to Economic Growth”

  1. A few issues:

    1.  A crisis?  According to a November, 2009 Gallup poll, 81% of Americans rate their healthcare as excellent or good.

    2.  Pre-existing conditions?  When you buy insurance for a pre-existing condition, it’s no longer insurance.  If my house burns down in a fire and I go to buy “insurance” the next day, it’s a little unreasonable to expect someone else to pay for my lack of planning.

    3.  You’re helping business?  Government’s assumption of the responsibility for employers’ healthcare costs won’t help employers’ bottom line.  If my employer pays me $100 a day in salary and $20 a day in benefits, I won’t be content to lose my benefits without a $20 raise.  Nothing you’re doing changes the market rate for labor.  You’re just increasing the tax burden on business.

    4.  Fiscally responsible?  You’re in big trouble if you start pretending the CBO scoring wasn’t replete with unreasonable assumptions.  Ten years of taxes for six years of services is your attempt to pretend to be fiscally responsible.

    5.  Greater affordability?  Perhaps if you ignore the $1 trillion in additional taxes and the fact that insurance premiums will increase.  I suspect affordability might improve for those receiving subsidies, but that’s not more affordable, that’s just shifting costs.

    6.  Greater accessibility?  How is it that we can subsidize millions of new insureds, not increase the number of doctors and facilities, and accessibility increases?  Romneycare has given Massachusetts the longest wait times in the US — by far.  Access to insurance is not the same as access to healthcare.

    7.  Greater accountability?  What planet are you from?  Madoff went to prison for ponzi schemes, yet government gives us Social Security and Medicare.  Enron was destroyed for cooking their books, yet Washington and Sacramento continue unabated.  It’s hard to imagine anything less accountable to me than the federal government.

    8.  Reduce the deficit?  You should have thought of that before you decided to spend ALL the money.

    9.  Create jobs?  All the jobs you listed are government jobs.  But the more government jobs we have, the fewer total jobs we have.  Your efforts to move people from pulling the wagon to riding in the wagon makes the wagon go slower, not faster.

    10.  Party of “no”?  Sometimes “no” is the right answer.  In fact, a belief that “yes” is always the right answer seems pretty reckless.  Does this argument ever convince anyone?

    11.  Romneycare?  Since the program became law, insurance premiums have increased by 10 to 12 percent per year, nearly double the national average. On average, health insurance costs $16,897 a year for a family of four in Massachusetts, compared to $12,700 nationally.  Meanwhile, total health-care spending in the state has increased by 28 percent.  And that doesn’t include the unfunded mandates.

    12.  Special privileges?  The reason politicians exist is to grant special privileges.  The healthcare bill itself is about increasing the number of SEIU members while charging them a lesser tax rate for “cadillac plans.”

    13.  Quality?  The ONLY way to improve quality is through competition.  Take a test drive of the East German Trabant and the West German Mercedes and then tell me how government control improves quality.

    Pure drek!

  2. health care reform is not critical to turning our economy around.  to say otherwise is to state an opinion and not a fact.  

    #1 our economy, and our country, is so big, and so diverse, that one sector, even as one as big and important as health care is not “critical” to economic growth.  the only sector that is always critical to economic growth is the financial sector which is why financial reform and the banking sector is more important to making our economy whole again.  

    #2 if you disagree, you are putting your left-wing agenda before reality, which is your perogative, but ask yourself this simple, yet clear question; did our economy fall into the ditch in september 2008, the precondition to the need to “turning our economy around” because of a precipitous rise in health care costs or because of the state of lehman bros. aig, citigroup, bank of america, etc. because of the housing market bust, fannie mae and freddie mac and the bundling of toxic assets that corrupted our financial system??  american health care needs reform no doubt but it is not the casus belli of our current economic state and an honest liberal would admit as much, and that from the outset the rush to enact sweeping health care reform has more to do with “never letting a crisis go to waste” and getting to single payer health care than it does “turning our economy around”

    #3 you make the best point, without stating it, for the single most important reform of our health care system and that is untying health insurance coverage from employment so that one’s employment status and employer have less to do with their own family coverage than their own ability to pay for it.  such a reform however has nothing to do with remaking our health care system and everything to do with tax reform and equalizing tax laws so that individuals, you and me, get the same deal that employers get when it comes to paying for health insurance coverage.  but of coarse that means going against the public employee unions, andy stern and the seiu, and if those on the left had any backbone they would realize that the single greatest obstacle to progress in our great state of california and increasingly in our dear country is organized labor.  care to come out of the 1930’s???

    i doubt it.  prepare to have your economic worldview crushed.  

  3. I agree with you, Rep. Miller, that we cannot let the health care reform die — it is too important to the current and future economy as a whole and more importantly, to so many people, both those with and those without insurance.

    The Senate bill is a travesty of political compromise caused by the unwillingness of the GOP to even allow a vote and thus giving individual Senators immense clout.  But short of the goal though it is, the House needs to pass it and send it to President Obama to sign.

    There are numerous reports that the Congressional leadership is working out an agreement among Democrats to guarantee the House Democrats that the Senate Democrats will rectify many of the problems through the reconciliation process, if the House passes the a Senate bill.  The House’s mistrust of the Senate in this whole process is understandable; but it is imperative the House not be so shortsighted as to let this mistrust derail all of the work done so far.

    As a member of the House leadership team, Congressman, you are in a position to help make this work.  Please do so!    

  4. I’m amazed at your comment that it is lack of foresight that causes people not to seek insurance for a pre-existing condition. What about the person who was insured (parent’s account, former job, other state, before divorce, etc) and then is without insurance? Those are the main reasons why it’s so important that people be able to get insurance with a pre-existing condition. It’s not because they spent their life avoiding insurance and then want it upon becoming ill from a pre-existing condition. (Yes, I know there are exceptions!)

    Kaiser in California is losing thousands of accounts. Why? Because so many people have lost their jobs, and with them, their insurance. That’s why I do agree, as an employer who pays 100 percent for health care for 18 employees, that health care should not be tied to jobs. And yes, I would be able to pay better salaries if I didn’t spend so much for health care premiums.

  5. Reid, Emanuel, need to sit down with Maine senators Snowe and Collins to see if there is a package of reforms that one or both of them will support.  

    The only other viable strategy is to change the senate rules for filibuster cloture to 55 votes.  Sadly, I don’t think the Dems have the stomach for this.  

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