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Landrieu: Now is the Time to Pass Health Care Reform
WASHINGTON - Following a meeting with President Obama and fellow Democratic Senators, United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today encouraged the Senate to move health care legislation forward. Sen. Landrieu commented on the improvements made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and outlined how these changes will positively affect Louisiana families and small businesses.
Sen. Landrieu said:
"While many of us expressed cost and bureaucracy concerns about early drafts of health care reform legislation, it is clear that the product the Senate is debating is a dramatic improvement. Senate Democrats have developed a consensus that combines the best blend of private and public approaches to reduce cost, expand coverage and increase choice and competition for Americans. The Congressional Budget Office and the nation's premier economists have confirmed that premiums will go down or remain stable, so that wages for millions of Americans can increase.
"If this bill is passed, 31 million uninsured Americans would have access to quality health care coverage. This reform bill creates an insurance exchange that will ensure that families would always have coverage - regardless of whether they change jobs, lose a job, move or get sick. We have also established immediate options for people who cannot get insurance today. About 11 percent of people in Louisiana have diabetes, and 32 percent have high blood pressure - two conditions that insurance companies could use as a reason to deny coverage. It would establish a high-risk pool to enable people who cannot get insurance today to find an affordable health plan.
"Although we eliminated the public option, about 900,000 Louisianians who do not currently have insurance and 200,000 residents who have non-group insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange. For the 70 percent of Louisiana families that make less than $88,000 a year, the government would offer an affordability subsidy to help them purchase insurance, and a Medicaid expansion would bring health care coverage to more working families. Small businesses get help too. In Louisiana, more than 50,000 small businesses could be helped by small business tax credits to make premiums for their employees more affordable.
"Our bill has shored up Medicare for seniors, and extended the Medicare Trust Fund for an additional nine years. More than 600,000 Louisiana seniors will also begin receiving free preventive care, and thousands more will have the price of their brand-name drug in the Medicare Part D coverage gap cut in half.
"At my request, the bill also includes provisions to address part of Louisiana's Medicaid shortfalls and to extend health care coverage to 29,000 young adults who 'age out' of the foster care system each year.
"These are monumental gains that will help restore fiscal responsibility to a system that has run amok with waste, fraud and abuse. While there is still some work to do, I am confident that we have found enough common ground for the Senate to seize this historic opportunity. I look forward to moving this legislation forward before the holiday recess."