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Washington, DC – “As a member of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I have been fully engaged in the health care reform debate since the beginning of this year," said Congressman Sarbanes. “Since we began this process in January, I have heard from passionate advocates of health care reform, committed opponents, and many who have sincere and often complex questions about the policies being proposed. It is clear to me that most Marylanders believe the time for reform has come and that Congress must act. On the merits, I believe we have crafted a good bill. It is a measured approach that will preserve what works in the current system and fix what doesn’t.”
Reforms in the bill:
• Prohibits insurance companies from increasing rates for pre-existing conditions, gender,
• Caps annual out of pocket expenses and does away with lifetime limits on how much insurance companies will pay to cover.
• Guarantees affordable oral, hearing and vision care for children and does away with co-pays or deductibles for preventive care.
• Lowers the cost of prescription drugs including gradually closing the dreaded “donut hole” in the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
• Creates a health care exchange where uninsured individuals and small businesses can choose from multiple plans and benefit from access to the kind of group rates that only large employers can offer now. This approach will also make health insurance more “portable” and give Americans the assurance that they can continue to receive health care if they change jobs or are laid off.
• Contains a number of provisions that will take effect beginning January 1, 2010. H.R. 3962 reduces the Medicare Part D “donut hole” by $500 and institutes a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs for seniors in the donut hole. It also prohibits insurers from nullifying or rescinding a patient’s policy in the non-group market when they file a claim for benefits, requires health plans to allow young people through age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, and discourages excessive price increases by insurance companies through review and disclosure of insurance rate increases.
Congressman Sarbanes also worked to include several provisions in the overall health care reform bill from legislation he introduced earlier in the year. He has been particularly focused on ensuring that we have an adequate number of doctors and nurses to support our new health system; bringing a new emphasis to primary and preventive care so that we can catch health problems before patients become very sick and reduce cost; and finding ways to bring health services to the patient through “place-based health care.”
“The status quo is unsustainable for our economy and I am convinced that the only way to achieve long term security is to fix our health care system,” said Sarbanes. “I look forward to working with the Senate to produce a final product that can be signed into law."
The Senate must now pass a bill and differences between the two measures must be reconciled by a conference committee before a final bill can be sent to the President for his signature.
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