Gary Condit on Health Care
Former Democratic Representative (CA-18)
We are writing on behalf of the House Blue Dog Caucus to request that bipartisan legislation be crafted for passage before the end of this Congress that adequately addresses the funding of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP programs. As you know, over 39 million seniors and the disabled rely on the Medicare program for their health care. A further 43 million Americans rely on the Medicaid and SCHIP programs. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 has produced cuts in spending far beyond what Congress and the Congressional Budget Office anticipated when the legislation was enacted. These greater-than- expected cuts threaten to jeopardize the health care of seniors and the disabled all across the country. While the Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 did provide some relief, it is clear that we need to do more. As we approach the end of the 106 Congress, it is impossible to th overstate the need for us to work on a bipartisan basis to write meaningful legislation that can be signed by the President.
We strongly believe there is a need to separate the provisions of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protections Act from H.R. 2614 and that bipartisan negotiations should be undertaken to improve this package so that it better provides for the critical needs of vulnerable patients. We respectfully submit that by working in a bipartisan basis, the 106 Congress can take th significant actions to help alleviate the current problems being faced by health care providers and patients that must be addressed. Waiting until next year to address this problem may be too late.
We strongly believe that Congress should enact a Medicare prescription drug benefit that is available, affordable, dependable and voluntary for all seniors. The Blue Dog Coalition supports proposals to provide prescription drug coverage through a defined Medicare benefit that is available to all Medicare beneficiaries. Given the shortcomings of existing private plans, we believe that relying on private sector insurance plans will leave many beneficiaries without adequate coverage.
Relying on private sector plans to deliver prescription drug coverage will not achieve the goals outlined above. It will not be cost effective for private plans to offer coverage in rural areas, which will result in expensive government subsidies to attract plans to rural areas. Rural seniors should not be forced to pay higher premiums or have less generous benefits, simply because they live in areas that are not financially attractive to private insurance companies.”
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NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle