From Senator Brown


I received this from Senator Sherrod Brown:

Chief:

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding health reform. I understand your frustrations with partisanship and Congress in general.

When it comes to health care, the cost of inaction is simply too high. More than 390 Ohioans lose their health insurance every day. Small businesses and the self-employed often pay double or triple what large businesses pay for coverage. By 2007, 62 percent of bankruptcies were due to medical costs. And forty-five thousand Americans die each year because they are uninsured and can’t get the care they need. American families and businesses deserve better.

I came to Congress in 1993 and saw first-hand how easy it is for the special interests to derail ambitious legislation. The Clinton Administration’s health reform bill was defeated by the drug companies, the insurance companies, and a Congressional majority that fractured.

On November 7, 2009, the House of Representatives passed legislation, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), by a vote of 220 to 215. A consolidated Senate health reform bill, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (H.R. 3590) was passed on December 24, 2009, by a vote of 60 to 39. Congress is currently working to produce a final piece of legislation. While we fought for a stronger bill, this legislation is still the most important step forward since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid four and a half decades ago.

This year’s reform will provide 31 million uninsured Americans with affordable insurance. It will curb insurance company abuses – like charging women more than men for the same policy, using pre-existing conditions as reasons to deny care, or imposing arbitrary annual and lifetime caps on benefits. It will extend the life of Medicare, close the prescription drug coverage gap (the “donut hole”) for seniors, and provide them with free annual checkups and preventive services for the first time. And it will help more than 118,000 of Ohio’s small businesses afford health insurance for their employees.

The bill the U.S. Senate passed does not give Americans the option of purchasing coverage from a public plan, nor does it include a Medicare buy-in for Americans between the ages of 55 and 64. This is a great disappointment, as I continue to believe that the best way to hold premiums in check and ensure every American access to affordable, reliable, and continuous health coverage is to create a public alternative to the for-profit insurance market.

Unfortunately, there was insufficient support in the Senate for these proposals. The House bill does contain a solid public option, however, and I will be working closely with my House and Senate colleagues, in the months and years ahead, to bring Ohioans a competitive public alternative to private insurance. Since joining Congress I have fought for the uninsured, and I am not going to abandon that fight until being uninsured is a thing of the past.

Some have argued that we should start over or use the budget reconciliation process instead. I’ve spent much of my time on this issue over the past year, and I am convinced that neither course would produce better legislation.

That’s not to say that there isn’t more work to be done. I will continue to push to make this legislation better and to keep premiums affordable for Ohio families. I hope you will continue to stand with me as I take on these and other fights in the months and years to come.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me about this very important issue. Your views on this and other aspects of health reform are always welcomed, and I will keep them in mind as Congress moves forward.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

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