Reforming America’s Health Care System
Congressman Sarbanes is a strong advocate for reforming our nation’s health care system. He has introduced and supported several bills that will expand affordable health coverage and improve the quality of care for all Americans. To this end, the Congressman supports the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because he believes it is a crucial step in our effort to reduce the cost of health care for families and small businesses, as well as to provide access for those who do not have insurance.
The ACA is working by providing better health coverage for millions of Americans and by improving:
- Access: Twenty million uninsured adults now have health insurance and the national uninsured rate has fallen to 8.5%, a historic low. In Maryland, only 6.6% of people went uninsured, down from 11.3% before the ACA was passed.
- Quality: Hospital readmissions for Maryland Medicare beneficiaries dropped 10.4% since the ACA became law. In one year, that drop translates into 3,789 beneficiaries who avoided an unnecessary return to the hospital. Nationally, this means that an estimated 87,000 lives have been saved and nearly $20 billion has been saved.
- Affordability: Average premiums for families with employer-sponsored health plans grew just 3.4% in 2016. About 85% of people shopping for health insurance on the exchange get tax credits that make their premiums more affordable and more than 75% of consumers on the exchange will end up paying less than $100/month.
Health care reform marks a new direction for the country – away from the influence of powerful special interests and toward common sense solutions for America families. See below for more detailed explanations of the positive impact that health care reform is having on our country.
Reining in Insurance Industry Abuses
- Insurance companies can no longer deny care to people with pre-existing conditions.
- Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on coverage or caps on out-of-pocket costs.
- Insurance companies can no longer cancel your coverage when you get sick and need it most.
- Free preventive care services – such as mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, pre-natal and new baby care.
- Young adults are now allowed to remain on their parent's plan until their 26th birthday.
- Seniors pay lower costs for prescription drugs.
- Insurance companies are now required to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical services and quality improvements, rather than expenses that do not directly benefit policyholders, such as salaries, advertising, overhead and profits. Insurers must also publish justifications for any premium increases over 10 percent, and outside experts will evaluate whether the increases are justified.
To learn more about health care reform, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov.
Improving America’s Health Care Workforce
One of Congressman Sarbanes’ top priorities is to address health care workforce shortages, particular those for primary care physicians. He worked to include several provisions in the ACA that help to alleviate some of these shortages:
- Additional scholarships and loan repayment programs for primary care providers in shortage areas;
- Strengthened grant programs for primary care training;
- A 10 percent bonus under Medicare for primary care services
- Redistribution of unused residency slots to medical programs that train more primary care physicians and general surgeons;
- An advisory commission that will help align our health care workforce with the needs of the greater population – now and in the future.
To further address the country’s shortage of primary care physicians, Congressman Sarbanes introduced H.R. 4234, the Primary Care Physician Reentry Act, which will help combat America’s shortage of primary care physicians by encouraging mid-career and retired or retiring physicians to return to practice. The legislation would provide training and financial assistance to physicians returning to medical practice in exchange for their service at community health centers, Veterans Administration medical centers or school-based health centers.