For Immediate Release
September 16, 2009
Contact:

Scott Mulhauser/Erin Shields (202) 224-4515

Baucus Introduces Landmark Plan To Lower Health Care Costs, Provide Quality, Affordable Coverage

Congressional Budget Office estimates the fully paid-for package will increase quality health coverage and reduce federal deficit within ten years

Washington, DCSenate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today introduced the America’s Healthy Future Act, landmark health care reform legislation to lower costs and provide quality, affordable health care coverage. The Chairman’s Mark will make it easier for families and small businesses to buy health care coverage, ensure Americans can choose to keep the health care coverage they have if they like it and slow the growth of health care costs over time. It will bar insurance companies from discriminating against people based on health status, denying coverage because of pre- existing conditions, or imposing annual caps or lifetime limits on coverage. The bill would improve the way the health care system delivers care by improving efficiency, quality, and coordination. The $856 billion dollar package will not add to the federal deficit. The Finance Committee will meet to begin voting on the Chairman’s Mark next week.

“The cost of America’s broken health care system has stretched families, businesses and the economy too far for too long. For too many, quality, affordable health care is simply out of reach,” Baucus said. “This is a unique moment in history where we can finally reach an objective so many of us have sought for so long. The Finance Committee has carefully worked through the details of health care reform to ensure this package works for patients, for health care providers and for our economy. We worked to build a balanced, common-sense package that ensures quality, affordable coverage and doesn’t add a dime to the deficit. Now we can finally pass legislation that will rein in health care costs and deliver quality, affordable care to the American people.”

Provisions included in the legislation to ensure Americans have quality, affordable, health care coverage would:

  • Create health care affordability tax credits to help low and middle income families  purchase insurance in the private market;
  • Provide tax credits for small businesses to help them offer insurance to their employees;
  • Allow people who like the coverage they have today the choice to keep it;
  • Reform the insurance market to end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and health status ;
  • Eliminate yearly and lifetime limits on the amount of coverage plans provide;
  • Create web-based insurance exchanges that would standardize health plan premiums and coverage information to make purchasing insurance easier;
  • Give consumers the choice of non-profit, consumer owned and oriented plans (CO-OP);
  • Standardize Medicaid coverage for everyone under 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Provisions included in the legislation to improve the quality of care, increase efficiency within the health care system, and lower health care costs would:

  • Shift incentives in Medicare to reward better care, not just more care;
  • Increase the number of primary care doctors in the system;
  • Aggressively fight fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare;
  • Encourage all of a patient’s doctors to coordinate care and reduce duplication
    and waste;
  • Create incentives for health care providers to improve quality by using safer,
    more cost effective health technology like electronic medical records; and
  • Increase health care research so doctors know what care works best for which
    patients.

Provisions included in the legislation to promote preventive health care and wellness would:

  • Provide annual “wellness visits” for Medicare participants and their doctors to focus on prevention;
  • Eliminate out-of-pocket costs for screening and prevention services in Medicare;
  • Create incentives in Medicare and Medicaid for completing healthy lifestyle
    programs;
  • Increase federal Medicaid funding for states that cover recommended
    preventive services and immunizations for enrollees at no extra cost; and
  • Provide free tobacco cessation services for pregnant women in Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Chairman’s Mark would make an $856 billion investment in the health care system over ten years. That investment would be fully paid for mostly through increased focus on quality, efficiency, prevention and adjustments in federal health program payments, without adding to the federal deficit. A summary of the Chairman’s Mark follows below. The full text of the America’s Healthy Future Act is available on the Finance Committee website at www.finance.senate.gov.

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