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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : commentary September 27, 2016

12/5/2009 9:55:00 PM
My Turn: The need for health insurance reform
Ann Kirkpatrick

I am honored to be representing District One in this Congress, and I am determined to make Greater Arizona’s voices heard in Washington. My family has been in the district for four generations, and I want to make sure that our values and ideas are part of any national debate.

For months, I have been talking with the good people of this district about the important issues, like getting folks back to work and opposing climate legislation that would unfairly hurt our state. One of the critical issues folks have raised is health insurance reform, and I am fighting to make reform work for Arizona families.

I have always said we need a uniquely American health care plan, not one copied from another country. As part of that plan, I pledged to stop insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions and to address high prescription drug prices for our seniors. The health reform bill that passed the House of Representatives makes progress in these critical areas, and that is, in part, why I supported its passage.

This reform is as much about helping those with insurance as it is about helping those without. Right now, small businesses face rising premiums and shrinking coverage every year and can be forced to give up coverage that works for them. Individuals who pay their insurance premiums faithfully every month often find when they need coverage most that their provider will not live up to their end of the bargain. The current structure slows our economic growth and puts responsible working families at the mercy of insurance companies.

Starting in April, folks began to talk with me about the importance of health insurance reform and what principles should guide this process. Since legislation was first introduced, I have been meeting with constituents, medical providers, small business employers and seniors to discuss their thoughts and concerns. I shared Arizona’s stories and ideas with Congress, and as a result dramatic improvements were made. For example, I was told repeatedly that folks should be able to buy insurance plans across state lines. This legislation, for the first time, allows states to do this.

Folks also shared with me a variety of opinions on the public insurance option. It is important to understand that I oppose any government takeover of our health care system and that this legislation rejects a Canadian or European style single-payer plan. The public insurance option simply offers consumers an additional choice within the system, using the fundamental American principle of free market competition to encourage lower costs and fair practices from all insurance providers.

Under the current structure, many areas have little competition among insurance companies, resulting in expensive premiums and deductibles with uncertain terms. They have been able to get away with outrageous abuses of their customers, and it is time to say enough is enough. I support the public insurance option because I know insurance companies must be held accountable. You will have an affordable choice you can count on and another option if you lose your job or decide to retrain for a new line of work.

In addition, the bill meets the needs of our seniors without cutting guaranteed Medicare benefits. This legislation closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole,” fulfilling one of my campaign pledges. A new discount will go into effect next year to help address costs as the donut hole is phased out. This critical fix is necessary to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for seniors and is even more important in this economy. 

Furthermore, this legislation aids our economic recovery by helping lower the cost of health care for small businesses. They are the engine of our economy, and they have seen insurance costs rise 129% in the last decade. Under this plan, small employers will see prices stabilize and have access to tax credits offsetting the cost of coverage. They will have more control over their business plans, helping small firms stay competitive and get our economy back on track. 

I have heard your concerns about increasing spending and I will continue to work tirelessly to bring the fiscal discipline I was raised with in the White Mountains to Washington. I fought hard to ensure that this bill is fully paid for, and this version will cut our deficits by $36.4 billion over the next 10 years. I believe that we can and must find the right balance between learning to do more with less and investing in our future.

To achieve that goal, we cannot leave health reform to the government alone. It will be the American people who get the job done, and the American people are still coming up with new ideas. This bill is only the first step. We will continue to work together, and I look forward to taking the next step with you.

Ann Kirkpatrick is Arizona’s representative from Congressional District 1.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 14, 2009
Article comment by: John A. Bond

Universal, single payer healthcare, MEDICARE FOR ALL, is the best solution to our broken healthcare system. It is estimated that 45-50 million Americans lack healthcare coverage. Letís implement a pilot project as an experimental effort to determine whether Medicare for All can provide quality, affordable healthcare to this uninsured Americans. And, we could require by law that the US congress participate in this pilot project, too. If it works for them then we can implement it nationwide for everyone. If this program works, it can be expanded to include all Americans. If it proves to be too expensive or fails to provide quality healthcare, it can be eliminated and we can try something else such as OPT IN, OPT OUT, or preferably a PUBLIC OPTION. Realistically, having the buying power and bargaining power of the US Government to negotiate healthcare costs, including prescription drugs, is the most efficient and cost effective way to insure quality, affordable healthcare to Americans. Everyone with an ounce of principle or ethics knows this to be true. Putting profit before people is reprehensible and should be eliminated. Or, we could just open up the healthcare system enjoyed by congress and make it available to everyone else, too.

Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009
Article comment by: Mountain Jack

If our elected officials truly cared about the American people we would have single payer healthcare for EVERYONE that would be hundreds of billion dollars less costly than any other plan put forth. Is it any wonder they didn't ask for a financial estimate from the CBO? Couldn't please the lobbyists if they did that.

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009
Article comment by: Thomas McCabe

'just another deadbeat' You are under the assumption that you will be better off receiving health care under the Kirkpatric/Obama health care plan. Don't believe that this will be a free service. Your plight and that of many others should have been addressed years ago but politicians have been too busy buying votes with your tax dollars offering 'free' medical. Seniors have been paying for Medicare and SS for their entire working lives under the assumption that it will be there for them when they need it. Now this the K/O government wants to void the contract without, at least, giving Seniors the opportunity to voice their opinion but this "Trust me" government has the audacity to provide bonuses ( Billions) to already wealthy individuals by way of taxation and billions more for a defunct, pork barrel 'Stimulus Plan'. Now where do YOU think the money will come from to add millions ( non-citizens) to the K/O plan? Add it to the Nation Debt? Who will pay for that? The Health Care Bill is just one more facet of this vile, bankrupt government that wants control at any cost. It is NOT a health care bill it is an attempt to control the minority vote. It is an attempt for the redistribution of wealth and the control our future earnings. Yes, there are flaws in the delivery of current US health care but they do not overshadow all of it. These deficiencies could be handled in a case by case basis. We are told that there is 500 billion of waste and fraud in Medicare. Suppose that is weeded out before destroying the entire health care industry. Why isn't that addressed? Votes, that is why! I suppose there is no waste in Medicaid? Let's not attempt a trillion dollar experiment before testing if any part of it will work. What is the rush?? Politics!..."A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have." Barry Goldwater

Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2009
Article comment by: just another deadbeat...

I am glad Thomas M. does not speak for me. While you may one of the millions who are satisfied with their health plan... I don't have that luxury. I work hard and make good money but lost my healthcare this year. A pre-existing condition guarantees that I will not be able to get insurance again unless I find a large employer group or reduce my income so I qualify for the state plan. Add in a spouse with a long term ,as of yet incurable, disease with a high cost medication... and you have the perfect storm. I am glad the view from your ivory tower overlooking 30 million "deadbeat recipients" is so rose colored, and I hope you enjoy al you have while looking down your nose and all of those that are less than you!

Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Article comment by: Thomas McCabe

Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizonaís representative from Congressional District 1 is a perfect example of what is wrong with American politics. Where was she at the town hall meetings....OUT! Ann Kirkpatrick claims she has "been talking with the good people of this district about the important issues...". You have ? Beats me! Not one Congressman has contacted any US citizen 'directly' concerning what THEY think of this Kirkpatricks/Obama's healthcare plan. Millions of Americans are satisfied with their health care plans but will be penalized and taxed for this vote grabing sham. Tell me Ann Kirkpatrick where will the money be coming from to pay for thirty million more deadbeat recipients that pay nothing now and never will? Just add it to the Federal deficite that is drowning Americans in debt?

Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Article comment by: NJ

She sure doesn't listen to her constituents. Not voting for her next time. Legislation that will plummit this country into unending debt. This government cannot control itself much less control something so important as healthcare.

Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Article comment by: john b

To oppose a Canadian or European health plan is to oppose something that actually works.The public option is slowly becoming a joke that is counter to the purpose of the option.I smell big business and our elected officals in bed again working against the interest of hard working americans.we send people to washington to represent us and they fall prey to lobbyist,big business, re-election,and forget we are in real trouble out here and no where to turn.We have a 17% unemployment rate,one in 4 children is receiving food stamps,we are losing our homes and digity but we send billions to fight a useless war alone,killing our children while Russia and China watch from the sidelines.We really need our elected enemies to set their washington minds off and just once use a little common sence.We are on a path to ruin and we should all be scared.

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