Honorable Steve Kagen, M.D.

Wisconsin's former 8th District Representative

January 4, 2007 to December 22, 2010

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Kagen Calls Legislation A Huge Step Towards Guaranteeing Access To Affordable Care For All Of Us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                          
October 29, 2009

Contact:  Jake Rubin
(202) 225-5665

KAGEN  CALLS  LEGISLATION  A  HUGE  STEP  TOWARDS  GUARANTEEING  ACCESS  TO  AFFORDABLE  CARE  FOR  ALL  OF  US

(WASHINGTON, DC)  Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. welcomed the Affordable Health Care for America Act, the latest version of health care reform legislation that was filed today.

“I am working hard to guarantee access to affordable care for all of us, and the Affordable Health Care for America Act is a huge step in that direction,” said Dr. Kagen.  “For my entire career I have been listening to people tell their health care stories.  For more than thirty years I listened to my patients and I have held countless listening sessions throughout Northeast Wisconsin since 2006.  The message has been clear: Fix what is broken, and improve on what we already have at a price we can all afford to pay.  With the Affordable Health Care for America Act we are doing just that while strengthening and protecting Medicare at the same time.”

The Affordable Health Care for America Act expands health coverage to 96 percent of Americans.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act will cut the deficit by about $30 billion in the next ten-years (fiscal years 2010 – 2019), and will not increase the federal budget deficit in the decade after that.  The 10-year cost of expanding coverage would be below the $900 billion ceiling called for by the President.  These savings are achieved by eliminating waste, making corporations who may benefit from these reforms pay their fair share, focusing on prevention and wellness, and reforming the Medicare payments to reward areas like Wisconsin.

“We are fixing the inequities that have caused health care costs to skyrocket by eliminating discrimination based on pre-existing medical conditions, creating competition on a level playing field, and developing a standard health benefit plan that all insurers must offer.  We are also eliminating the waste, fraud and abuse now rampant in our health care system, saving consumers and taxpayer’s money.  These were the essential elements recommended by the doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, small business owners, representatives from insurance providers and non-profit community service organizations that make up the 8th Congressional District Health Care Advisory Committee.  I am proud to say that Congress has listened to the voice of Northeast Wisconsin placing these elements in the Affordable Health Care for America Act.”

The Affordable Health Care for America Act also includes a public option that would compete with private insurers beginning in 2013, through negotiated rates with physicians and hospitals, as private insurers do today.  Payments would not be pegged to Medicare rates, a provision Kagen fought against.

“We are strengthening and protecting Medicare by fixing the unfair provisions that penalize states like Wisconsin.  Medicare providers in Wisconsin will see higher payments from Medicare by securing greater equity in the system.  For years, Medicare paid more for the same service in other states than it does in Wisconsin.  The inclusion of this agreement is a major victory for Wisconsin health care providers, who have been proven to deliver high quality at lower costs, yet are reimbursed less than providers in other parts of the country.”

Dr. Kagen is a member of the Quality Care Coalition, a group of Members of the House who have been working together to ensure that rural areas are treated fairly when it comes to Medicare reimbursement.  Last week they reached an agreement with House Leadership on final legislative language.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act also takes critical steps to fixing America’s broken medical malpractice system.  It sets up pilot projects to find the right balance between protecting patients and their families, which will allow physicians to do their jobs without threats of frivolous lawsuits.  The new legislation also updates antiquated rules set up in 1945 that exempt insurance companies from anti-trust regulations, ensuring real competition in the medical malpractice insurance industry to lower premiums and create savings for doctors and patients.

“As someone who has been paying medical malpractice insurance premiums for three decades, I know that we need to fix this problem and strike the right balance.  This issue came up frequently in our town hall meetings this summer, and I delivered that message to my colleagues in the House,” said Kagen.

You can read The Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) at http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf

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