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MAILBAG: Porn has no place in the newspaper

August 24, 2009

At the time, there wasn’t much hope to offer those who were self-employed and couldn’t afford health insurance, or those who were small or mid-size employers and couldn’t afford to provide coverage for their employees any longer. There also wasn’t much hope that if you had a pre-existing condition and lost your health insurance, you could ever find a new policy.

But now, the president and Congress are working in earnest on a major reform of our health-care system designed to bring down the costs of medical care, to provide stable coverage that cannot be taken away and won’t be lost when you change jobs, and to give Americans the choice of staying in their current plan, buying new private insurance at reduced costs through an exchange, or seeking coverage through a public option.

As a nation we spend almost twice as much per person on health care as any other country, or about 16% of our gross domestic product. And for all the money we are spending, our health-care system does not produce the best outcomes. The United States ranks 37th in terms of health system performance, and we are far behind many other countries when it comes to infant mortality, life expectancy and preventable deaths.

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This is notwithstanding the fact that we have many of the best trained doctors and nurses, the finest facilities and most advanced specialty care in the world.

Our current level of spending is unsustainable and will eventually bankrupt the country if it’s not fixed. I have been working hard to push for reforms in the health-care package that will bring down health-care costs by tying payments to outcomes, rather than the quantity of tests being run; by ending the government’s overpayment for prescription drugs; by empowering an independent commission to put health-care cost reductions before the Congress for an up-or-down vote; by introducing competition with the private plans through a public option; and by investing in prevention and primary care.

A successful reform package should provide the kind of stability where you will always have coverage, even if your job doesn’t provide it, where it is easy and affordable to shop for health insurance through an exchange, where you can’t be denied health coverage for a pre-existing condition or charged more because of your gender.

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