DeFazio is committed to reining in the escalating costs of health care and insuring access to quality health care for all Americans. Our health care system is capable of providing quality care to some, that care is inefficient and expensive, while leaving behind many Americans with poor care at best. The health care system is failing too many people. Too many families are vulnerable to the whims of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which are more interested in protecting profits than the health care of hard working Americans and seniors. Seniors are vulnerable to the same insurance and pharmaceutical industries, but their Medicare is also under an ideological attack.
Ending Abusive Insurance Industry Practices
The insurance industry has operated beyond the reach of America's anti-trust laws since the McCarran-Ferguson Act was passed by Congress in 1945. The insurance industry should play by the same rules as other industries in America. Insurance companies and Major League Baseball are the only two industries exempt from anti-trust laws. Insurance companies are free to collude amongst themselves to drive up prices and deny care.
Congressman DeFazio has been pushing to repeal the antitrust exemption for the insurance industry for 20 years. The Consumer Federation of America has said that this action alone would save consumers more than $40 billion in insurance premiums. Since the Senate stripped these reforms from the final health care bill Congressman DeFazio successfully fought to have it passed as its own bill. It passed the House on February 24, 2010 by a bi-partisan vote of 406 to 19.
DeFazio has successfully opposed efforts to privatize Medicare and lessen benefits for seniors. Medicare was created because, at their age and with their pre-existing conditions, seniors could not purchase an affordable private health insurance plan. As a result health care costs were driving American seniors into financial ruin, often forcing them into poverty. DeFazio is opposed to any plan that brings those days back for current or future retirees.
Medicare’s administrative costs are about 2 percent compared to 25 to 30 percent among private insurance companies. Medicare does, however, suffer from the same rapid increase in health care costs that is affecting all health insurance. Proposals that simply reallocate costs to seniors would not lower health care costs; it would simply shift the costs onto seniors. Healthcare costs need to lowered for everyone, not just seniors.
Improving Access to Care for Medicare Recipients
Due to the current Medicare reimbursement formula, Oregon is one of 17 states where doctors and hospitals receive Medicare reimbursements at rates far below the national average, despite delivering better health outcomes. Oregon doctors are increasingly unable to take new Medicare patients because reimbursement rates are so low that they lose money on every patient.
After decades of trying, Congress finally fixed the Medicare geographic disparities formula. With the leadership of Congressman DeFazio, an agreement was reached that will fix the outdated formula and provide a path forward for the future. For the next two years, Oregon doctors and hospitals will receive immediate relief for their unfairly low Medicare reimbursement rates. These fixes will be made permanent by 2012.
DeFazio supported the Affordable Care Act which passed in 2010 and will slowly improve the health care coverage of all Oregonians. For those who have health insurance they like, they can keep it. Those who don’t have health insurance, they will have better, more affordable options to get it. And, for the nearly 600,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Oregon, they will have better benefits and improved access to health care services.
The prescription drug Medicare Part D program gave massive subsidies to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and created the dreaded “donut hole”.
The Affordable Care Act has begun to phase out this doughnut hole, helping over 14,000 seniors in the 4th district of Oregon. It also will provide a 50% reduction on brand name drug prices for seniors while the donut hole is being transitioned out.
The Affordable Care Act does not add to the deficit. The Congressional Budget office (CBO) , the official nonpartisan arbiter of the cost of legislation, estimates that it will lower the deficit by $143 billion in the first ten years and those savings would grow even more in the next ten years. CBO also estimates that premiums for families with comparable coverage will be lower under reform. More savings can be found by changing the way healthcare is delivered by incentivizing healthcare providers to work with each other and coordinate care for every patient.
Additional Material on Geographic Disparities