Major Owens on Health Care
Former Democrat/Working-Families Representative (NY-11, 1983-2007)
Voted NO on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay.
Vote to pass a resolution, agreeing to S. AMDT. 2691 that removes the following provisions from S 1932:
Reference: Reconciliation resolution on the FY06 budget;
Bill H Res 653 on S. AMDT. 2691
; vote number 2006-004
on Feb 1, 2006
- Allows hospitals to refuse treatment to Medicaid patients when they are unable to pay their co-pay if the hospital deems the situation to be a non-emergency
- Excludes payment to grandparents for foster care
Voted NO on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages.
Vote to pass a bill that would limit the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases. The bill would limit non-economic damages, including physical and emotional pain to $250,000. The bill would also limit punitive damages to $250,000 or double economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Punitive damages would be banned against makers and distributors of medical products if the Food and Drug Administration approved those products. The bill would call for all states to set damage caps but would not block existing state statutory limits. The bill would cap attorneys' contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount in excess of $600,000.
Reference: Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation bill;
Bill HR 4280
; vote number 2004-166
on May 12, 2004
Voted NO on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients.
Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003: Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Starting in 2006, prescription coverage would be made available through private insurers to seniors. Seniors would pay a monthly premium of an estimated $35 in 2006. Individuals enrolled in the plan would cover the first $250 of annual drug costs themselves, and 25 percent of all drug costs up to $2,250. The government would offer a fallback prescription drug plan in regions were no private plans had made a bid.Over a 10 year time period medicare payments to managed care plans would increase by $14.2 billion. A pilot project would begin in 2010 in which Medicare would compete with private insurers to provide coverage for doctors and hospitals costs in six metropolitan areas for six years. The importation of drugs from Canada would be approved only if HHS determines there is no safety risks and that consumers would be saving money.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL;
; vote number 2003-669
on Nov 22, 2003
Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs.
Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill that would call for the Food and Drug Administration to begin a program that would permit the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and South Africa.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gutknecht, R-MN;
; vote number 2003-445
on Jul 24, 2003
Voted NO on small business associations for buying health insurance.
Vote to pass a bill that would permit the creation of association health plans through which small companies could group together to buy insurance for their employees. Association health plans that cover employees in several states would be excused from many individual state insurance regulations but would be regulated by the Labor Department.
Reference: Small Business Health Fairness Act;
Bill HR 660
; vote number 2003-296
on Jun 19, 2003
Voted NO on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits.
Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003: To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Limits the availability of punitive damages, and sets a 3-year limit for suing.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Greenwood, R-PA;
Bill HR 5
; vote number 2003-64
on Mar 13, 2003
Voted NO on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award.
Vote to adopt an amendment that would limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care. It would allow a patient to sue a health maintenance organization in state court but federal, not state, law would govern.
Bill HR 2563
; vote number 2001-329
on Aug 2, 2001
Voted NO on subsidizing private insurance for Medicare Rx drug coverage.
HR 4680, the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, would institute a new program to provide voluntary prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries through subsidies to private plans. The program would cost an estimated $40 billion over five years and would go into effect in fiscal 2003.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA;
Bill HR 4680
; vote number 2000-357
on Jun 28, 2000
Voted NO on banning physician-assisted suicide.
Vote on HR 2260, the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, would ban the use of drugs for physician-assisted suicide. The bill would not allow doctors to give lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients, and instead promotes "palliative care," or aggressive pain relief techniques.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hyde, R-IL;
Bill HR 2260
; vote number 1999-544
on Oct 27, 1999
Voted NO on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts.
The bill allows all taxpayers to create a tax-exempt account for paying medical expenses called a Medical Savings Account [MSA]. Also, the measure would allow the full cost of health care premiums to be taken as a tax deduction for the self-employed and taxpayers who are paying for their own insurance. The bill would also allow the establishment of "HealthMarts," regional groups of insurers, health care providers and employers who could work together to develop packages for uninsured employees. Another provision of the bill would establish "association health plan," in which organizations could combine resources to purchase health insurance at better rates than they could separately.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Talent, R-MO;
Bill HR 2990
; vote number 1999-485
on Oct 6, 1999
Increase funding for AIDS treatment & prevention.
Owens adopted the CBC principles:
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC5 on Jan 6, 2001
The CBC’s Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative will focus on those areas hardest hit by the epidemic, many of which are in districts that we represent. The initiative will focus on prevention and treatment and we will also seek to re-direct and/or increase funding levels based on a detailed review of the implementation of the initiative. In addition, the CBC recognizes the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on the global workforce, specifically in Africa, and on the allocation of resources of developing countries. Therefore, the CBC will continue its efforts to support a comprehensive global policy aimed at ending the scourge of HIV/AIDS around the globe.
More funding for Rx benefits, community health, CHIPs.
Owens adopted the CBC principles:
The Congressional Black Caucus is committed to improving America’s health care system by focusing on, among other items, the following issue areas:
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC6 on Jan 6, 2001
- Eliminating Health Care Disparities.The CBC will emphasize the importance of eliminating health care disparities as it relates to access, treatment and availability in communities of color and other disadvantaged communities. The CBC will also ensure that America keeps its promise to our veterans, and will support funding for the best health care programs at our veterans’ hospitals.
- Patients’ Bill of Rights. The CBC will support a strong and enforceable Patients’ Bill of Rights that puts medical decisions back in the hands of doctors, and gives patients the right to seek damages when they are harmed by decisions influenced by non-medical professionals.
- Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. The CBC supports a prescription benefit program for the Medicare program. The price of
prescription drugs is too high for most seniors, and many seniors go without the necessary medication they need, or have to choose between conflicting priorities.
- Support for Health Providers in Underserved Communities. The CBC will support the development of networks of providers, community hospitals and health centers in underserved communities to increase the quality of care provided to patients. We will also seek funding and technical assistance to assist Community Health Centers in developing a system of comprehensive health services in both urban and rural communities.
- Healthy Children. The CBC will work to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We will also focus on increasing immunization rates, better dietary and physical fitness programs, prevention of teenage pregnancies and anti-drug and smoking initiatives. In addition, we will support efforts to ensure that mental health is covered under basic health plans.
MEDS Plan: Cover senior Rx under Medicare.
Owens adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:
Summary of the Medicare Extention of Drugs To Seniors Act (Meds) MEDS establishes an 80/20 outpatient prescription drug benefit under a new Medicare Part D that will be administered by the Health Care Financing Administration. The plan will cost similar to figures for the Bush prescription drug plan due to this plan’s emphasis on lowering the price of pharmaceuticals.
- First-dollar 80%/20% benefit (may charge beneficiary less for generics)
- Catastrophic coverage begins at $2000 out-of-pocket.
- No beneficiary would have to spend more than $2288 for prescription drugs (including premium)
Prescription Drug Prices:
- (Reimportation) Beginning 2003, all FDA-approved prescription would be allowed for importation at world market prices after being tested for safety. Once fully implemented, Medicare could set fee schedules based on imported drug prices.
- (Allen Bill) To eliminate price discrimination, manufacturers would charge
Medicare and its beneficiaries the price equal to the lower of either the lowest price paid for the drug by other Federal Government agencies or the manufacturer’s best price for the drug.
- (Reasonable Prices) Drugs developed with taxpayer funds would be subject to “reasonable price” agreements when patents are transferred to pharmaceutical companies.
Premiums and Low-income Assistance: Premiums would be $24/month in the first year and indexed to a pharmaceutical Sustainable Growth Rate, which will ensure that premiums or drug costs do not increase arbitrarily.
The Government would subsidize low-income beneficiaries to the following levels:
- 100% of the premium and cost sharing for beneficiaries below 135% of poverty.
- Partial subsidy on a sliding scale for those between 135% and 150%
Employer Incentive Program: Employers providing drug coverage equal to or better than the Medicare coverage receive an incentive payment to maintain such coverage.
Source: CPC Press Release, MEDS Plan 01-CPC3 on Jan 31, 2001
Rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.
Owens scores 100% by APHA on health issues
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003
Provide mental health services for older Americans.
Owens co-sponsored providing mental health services for older Americans
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for mental health screening and treatment services, and to provide for integration of mental health services and mental health treatment outreach teams.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: This bill is an effort to improve the accessibility and quality of mental health services for our rapidly growing population of older Americans. As we look forward to increased longevity, we must also acknowledge the challenges that we face related to the quality of life as we age. Chief among these are mental and behavioral health concerns.
It is estimated that nearly 20% of Americans age 55 or older experience a mental disorder. It is anticipated that the number of seniors with mental health problems will increase from 4 million in 1970 to 15 million in 2030. Mental disorders do not have to be a part of the aging process because we have effective treatments for these conditions. But in far too many
instances our seniors go undiagnosed and untreated because of the current divide in our country between health care and mental health care.
That is why I am reintroducing the Positive Aging Act. This legislation would strengthen the delivery of mental health services to older Americans. Specifically, the Positive Aging Act would fund grants to states to provide screening and treatment for mental health disorders in seniors. It would also fund demonstration projects to provide these screening and treatment services to older adults residing in rural areas and in naturally occurring retirement communities, NORC's.
I believe that we owe it to older adults in this country to do all that we can to ensure that high quality mental health care is both available and accessible. This legislation takes an important step in that direction.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.
Source: Positive Aging Act (S.1116/H.R.2629) 05-S1116 on May 25, 2005
Make health care a right, not a privilege.
Owens adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:
The Progressive Caucus is united in its goal of making health care a right, not a privilege. Every person should have access to affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care. We must use our health care dollars efficiently and ensure public accountability in all medical decisions. Based on this goal, we support the following principles:
Source: CPC Position Paper: Health Care 99-CPC2 on Nov 11, 1999
- All Americans, including the 44 million currently without health insurance, deserve to have the health care they need, regardless of ability to pay.
- Medicare must remain solvent and available for the millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on the program. The Progressive Caucus supports expanding the program to cover prescription drugs and other needed products and services for beneficiaries. We support a Medicare buy-in for individuals age 55 and older. We support lowering out-of-pocket costs for seniors who currently pay, on average, 20% of their income for health care.
- Proposals should be rejected to
change traditional Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution or voucher system.
- Balanced Budget Act cuts that are negatively affecting patient access to hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies must be restored.
- Medicaid must have the resources to continue to provide coverage and care for low-income individuals, including children in the CHIP program.
- Individuals with disabilities should retain their health benefits when they return to work and to have access to rehabilitative and other needed services.
- Funding and outreach and other programs serving low-income Americans should be expanded. Examples of such programs are the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and Qualified Individuals programs; transitional funds for Medicaid recipients who are also welfare-to-work recipients; and for HHS for mental health outreach for the elderly.
Page last updated: Mar 10, 2011