I Wrote To My Congress Opposing ACA, So Far Udall Responds

Here is Mark Udall –

, U.S. Congressman.

, U.S. Congressman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

, U.S. Congressman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I wrote  my congress –

Mark Udall – US Senate – Colorado

Michael Bennet – US SenateColorado                                                           

Diana DeGette – US House – Colorado

I wrote to them about opposing The Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.  Here is my response from Mark Udall.  I would like to hear any comments you might have on this subject or Mark Udall’s response to a citizen he represents in Congress.  What do you think?

December 7, 2012

Dear             ,

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding health insurance reform.  I appreciate that you took the time to express your specific views with me on this important topic.

From the beginning of the debate over how to lower costs, improve efficiency and expand access to quality health care, I called for a bill requiring health insurers to provide coverage regardless of health status or pre-existing health conditions.  I also urged Congress to focus on ways to improve overall health outcomes by emphasizing the importance of prevention and chronic disease management.  In addition, I maintained that health reform must strengthen Medicare to ensure its solvency and long-term stability while also giving small business owners the tools needed to provide their employees with affordable coverage.  Finally, I said that I would not support legislation projected to increase our nation’s federal deficit.

With these principles in mind, I supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became law on March 23, 2010.  This law is not perfect, but I believe it will continue to serve as a foundation for providing Americans with greater security, providing small businesses the means to offer affordable coverage to their employees and protecting and strengthening Medicare for our seniors.  The ACA expands coverage to nearly 32 million uninsured Americans while providing more stable care to those already covered.  New state-run health insurance “exchanges” or marketplaces will be put into place by 2014 so that small businesses and those who do not have access to health insurance will be able to pool together their purchasing power to buy affordable coverage.  Under the law, each state is given flexibility to develop and administer its own unique exchange, thereby ensuring that Colorado will have an exchange designed specifically by Coloradans, for Coloradans.  In addition, Members of Congress and their staffs will be required to select their own coverage from plans within these exchanges when they are established in 2014.  Moreover, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed that health reform is fully paid for and projects it to significantly cut the long-term federal deficit.

This legislation contains several measures that I authored, including the Rural Physician Pipeline Act, which is designed to address the shortfall of rural physicians by creating a program to help expand rural training programs at medical schools.  In addition, I authored an amendment to ensure that rural communities in Colorado – and across the nation – get the same access as their urban counterparts to federal Community Transformation Grants designed to help prevent and reduce chronic disease.  These important programs will ensure that Colorado’s rural counties have the resources they need to improve and increase access to affordable health care.

March 23, 2012, marked the two-year anniversary of ACA becoming law, and a number of provisions have already been put into place benefiting thousands of Coloradans.  Included among the provisions are new rules protecting Americans from being denied health coverage.  Now, insurers will no longer be able to deny children under 19 years of age health coverage based on pre-existing conditions, cancel anyone’s coverage without cause or place lifetime caps or restrictive annual limits on benefits for patients suffering from life-threatening and costly conditions.  Additionally, consumers purchasing new plans today will have better choices and benefits thanks to ACA, including preventive care such as screenings and vaccinations with no out-of-pocket cost, the ability of parents to keep dependents insured until they turn 26 years old and the freedom to choose any primary care doctor or pediatrician in their health plan’s network.  In fact, over one million Coloradans now have access to these critical screenings, while an additional 44,000 young Coloradans have access to health coverage under their parents’ insurance plan as a result of ACA.

Over the past two years, over 90,000 small businesses in Colorado have become eligible for a tax credit to help them offer health coverage for their employees.  Additionally, this law has reduced the cost of prescription drugs for thousands of Colorado seniors who find themselves in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, or “donut hole.”  In 2010, over 42,000 Colorado seniors received $250 to help offset some of the out-of-pocket costs associated with their drug coverage, and in 2011, nearly 40,000 seniors received a 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs once they hit the prescription drug “donut hole” when additional cost sharing and expenses had previously kicked in.  Health reform will fill in this coverage gap even further over the next several years, phasing it out completely by 2020.

The initial consumer protections and preventive benefits that are now law as a result of health reform are one component of the regulations in ACA designed to prevent health insurers from favoring the healthy over the sick and give consumers better peace of mind knowing that their insurance will be there for them when they need it.  Although these are important protections, we must remain diligent to ensure consumers are shielded from higher premiums or other extraneous and burdensome costs.  Insurers in several states, including Colorado, have already been investigated for excessive and unwarranted premium increases, some cases resulting in premiums being paid back to policy holders and announced rate hikes being decreased.  Looking out for the consumer is one of the main focuses of health reform, and I applaud both Colorado’s Division of Insurance and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius for their commitment to making sure that insurance companies are fairly playing by the rules.

As controversial as it has been, I believe that health insurance reform is a key building block for getting our economy back on track.  If we failed to act, businesses would continue to be choked by health care costs, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and preventing them from contributing to our economic recovery.  I fully expect that improvements to this law will be necessary as each provision is implemented, but I am confident that we have a better foundation on which to build a more cost-effective and accessible health insurance system moving forward.  Colorado is stronger with healthier communities, which is why I remain committed to forming a health care system in our country that works for everyone.

To see my involvement in the health care debate, including speeches and amendments I have offered, please visit my website at www.markudall.senate.gov/healthreform.  My website also includes links to the text of the health reform laws, in addition to other resources.

For additional information on health reform, including other provisions, timelines and more, you may find the following websites helpful:

http://www.healthcare.gov/

http://www.colorado.gov/HealthReform

I will continue to listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say about matters before Congress, the concerns of our communities, and the issues facing Colorado and the nation.  My job is not merely about supporting or opposing legislation, but also about bridging the divide that has paralyzed our nation’s politics.  For more information about my positions and to learn how my office can assist you, please visit my website at www.markudall.senate.gov.

Warm regards,

Mark Udall U.S. Senator, Colorado

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