Gordon To Vote Yes On Obama's Health Care Reform

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The health care bill being considered by Congress now accomplishes three things: one, it reduces health care costs for families and small businesses; two, it improves access to affordable care, regardless of pre-existing conditions; three, it lowers our budget deficit. That’s why I am supporting it.

Over the past year, I have been contacted by thousands of Middle Tennesseans with opinions on health care. Because this issue is so important, I have heard from passionate voices on all sides through face-to-face meetings, call-ins, surveys, town halls, calls and letters.

During that time, I have consistently said I would not support any version of health care reform unless it brings down rising health care costs, improves access to affordable care, and does it all without adding one nickel to the national deficit. I’ve now been presented with a bill that does all three; in fact, this proposal reduces the deficit by $130 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the 10 years after that. Finding solutions to the problems we face has been challenging, but we simply cannot sustain the status quo any longer.

I’ve heard from many Tennesseans in the past year who are struggling to afford health care. Since 2000, health insurance premiums for the average family have doubled. Too many hard-working families and small businesses are getting priced out of needed health care.

There is no evidence this trend of escalating costs is moderating. If no reform is passed, the average family premium in Tennessee is expected to increase from $11,550 today to $19,700 in 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who currently have insurance are projected to lose their coverage. Small businesses that have stretched their budgets to cover employees will be forced to either cut care or cut staff. If we do nothing, local hospitals that are already struggling to accommodate uninsured patients through emergency room care and other resources will be stretched to the breaking point; some will likely go bankrupt.

Drawing from Republican and Democratic ideas, the bill before the House now has the potential to bring about major, commonsense remedies to our system that most all Tennesseans agree are necessary. Under the bill’s reforms, Tennesseans with preexisting conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer would be able to purchase insurance from any insurance company in the United States. Young adults would be able to remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Families in financial trouble would receive tax breaks to help them find affordable insurance plans in the private sector. And finally, for the 100,000 seniors in my district, the bill would elimate the Part D donut hole and extend Medicare’s solvency nine years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Growing health care costs are also straining our economy and increasing our national debt. Health care expenditures now account for 20 percent of the federal budget. Without reform, that number is projected to double in the next ten years. The Congressional Budget Office calls current federal spending on health care “the single greatest threat to budget stability.” These costs must be contained if we are to get serious about cutting our national debt. I voted against the House bill in November because that version didn’t do enough to address health care inflation. The Congressional Budget Office now says the current bill will address the problem by reducing the deficit.

With this bill, we have an opportunity to address a number of inefficiencies that have drained our system and driven costs up artificially. To begin with, we can address the pressing issue of frivolous and expensive malpractice lawsuits, which force doctors and hospitals to practice defensive medicine and put a huge financial burden on the system. That’s why I introduced a measure based on Tennessee’s own successful Certificate of Merit Program, which has already brought down the number of malpractice suits in Tennessee by 60 percent.

We can attack waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. We can hold insurance companies accountable and prevent companies from hiking premiums arbitrarily and dropping patients when they get sick. These are the measures I believe are essential to sensible reform, and these are the measures the new bill includes.

In November, I said I hoped the Senate and House could work out the difference and produce a bill I could support – one that takes responsible steps to make health care more affordable for our economy and for our families and small businesses. If I and each of my 534 colleagues in Congress had been able to write our own health reform packages, we would be looking at 535 different bills today. In the end, the question I’m faced with is this: will this reform be better for Middle Tennessee than the status quo? I think it will. That’s why I believe passing meaningful health care reform is essential and why I have made my decision to help ensure health care is affordable for Middle Tennesseans today and for generations to come.
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Members Opinions:
March 19, 2010 at 6:53am
Thank you--let the Republicans rant and rave, it is time to pass this bill and move on!
March 19, 2010 at 8:24am
Just what we need more Government in our lives.
March 19, 2010 at 1:18pm
Jack, you will be ranting and raving in a few years when this Health Care Bill takes affect and the budget deficit and health care spending really skyrocket.

This bill increases total health care spending in the US. The government subsidies have to be paid for by increased tax collections. This bill doesn't reduce health costs for families or businesses because they have to pay for it in additional taxes. The government is taking money out of your back pocket and putting some of it back in your shirt pocket.

This bill increases health care costs through new taxes on health care services and products and through new government mandates. If access to health care is increased, it will be at a higher cost.

The assumption that it will lower the budget deficit is based on a lot of rosy assumptions, the biggest being that Medicare payment rates to doctors will be reduced by $500 billion. It will never happen. If Bart really believes that those rates will be cut, why has he been consistently voting to delay the 20% cut in Medicare payments that have been the law for years?

This bill will cause insurance premiums and employer paid health care costs to significantly increase. Not just at Caterpillar, as in the article referenced below, but at Nissan, Bridgestone, the State and every other employer in the US.

I bet that manufacturers in Europe and Asia are dancing in the streets, this bill is great for them since it makes US companies less competitive.

Health reform Q&A:Email your questions for a live White House chat at 5:15 pm ET
FACT CHECK: Premiums would rise under Obama plan

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer – Wed Mar 17, 11:51 am ET
“WASHINGTON – Buyers, beware: President Barack Obama says his health care overhaul will lower premiums by double digits, but check the fine print. The budget office concluded that premiums for people buying their own coverage would go up by an average of 10 percent to 13 percent, compared with the levels they'd reach without the legislation.”


Dow Jones Newswires | Caterpillar Inc. said the health-care overhaul legislation being considered by the U.S. House would increase the company's health-care costs by more than $100 million in the first year alone.

Caterpillar, the world's largest construction machinery manufacturer by sales, said it's particularly opposed to provisions in the bill that would expand Medicare taxes and mandate insurance coverage.

"We can ill-afford cost increases that place us at a disadvantage versus our global competitors," said the letter signed by Gregory Folley, vice president and chief human resources officer of Caterpillar."


“December 18, 2009 — Following the lead of the House earlier this week, the Senate approved a defense spending bill in the early hours of Friday morning (December 18) that, as part of an add-on measure, would push the effective date for a scheduled Medicare pay cut of 21.2% for physicians from January 1 to February 28.”


“While perusing the morning news, I discovered that once again the Senate has made a last-minute decision to delay the Medicare pay cuts — this time until October 1, 2010.”


“They added that "the cost of repealing a formula whose faults have been known since its inception has continued to grow, from $49 billion in 2005 to over $200 billion today."
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