Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about health care reform. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on these important issues.
Each year, costs associated with our current health care system increase. North Carolinians are struggling to afford insurance coverage, and the unprecedented economic crisis facing our nation has made it still more difficult for working families to manage medical costs while making ends meet. In North Carolina alone, the number of uninsured has risen to approximately 1.8 million, which represents 22 percent of the state's population.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, is a fiscally responsible plan that will reduce the deficit by nearly $118 billion in the next 10 years. I have heard from so many North Carolinians who are cut off from health care because of pre-existing conditions. Under this legislation, insurance companies will no longer be able to use 'pre-existing conditions' as an excuse to deny coverage. The bill expands coverage and lowers costs by focusing on prevention and cracking down on fraud and abuse in the system. Additionally, the legislation gives states the authority to form compacts to purchase health insurance across state lines and regionally.
As you know, there are various opposing views within the health care reform debate, and I would like to address a few here. When crafting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate went to great lengths to ensure that if you have a health insurance plan that you like, you can keep it. Also, the Senate legislation would require Members of Congress and their congressional staff to participate in the Exchange, where the uninsured and other eligible Americans will be able to obtain affordable health coverage.
I recognize that medical liability reform has the potential to reduce medical malpractice insurance premiums for health care providers and decrease defensive medicine practices. Accordingly, I am in favor of President Obama's plan to implement demonstration projects to evaluate medical liability models being used and implemented around the United States.
In addition, concern has been raised about illegal aliens being able to receive medical services under health care reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act defines an eligible individual as a citizen or national of the United States who is lawfully present in the United States. Illegal immigrants would be explicitly barred from receiving services under the legislation.
Also, some believe abortion services could be covered under health care reform. This is inaccurate, due to a long-standing federal law that includes a broad prohibition against using federal funds for abortion services. Health care reform would not change that prohibition, which is known as the Hyde Amendment.
Furthermore, it has come to my attention that some believe there would be rationing of health care services under health care reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would not do anything to limit the ability of your doctor to pursue the course of care he or she believes is most appropriate for you. While the bill would fund research into the comparative effectiveness of various treatments, that information will simply serve as a tool for practitioners to use as they see fit. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act specifically states that any recommendations made under health care reform shall not be construed as mandates for payment, coverage, or treatment of health services.
I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues and stakeholders throughout North Carolina to help pass pragmatic, comprehensive health care reform. To view the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I encourage you to visit http://thomas.loc.gov/
Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.
Kay R. Hagan