Monday, June 8, 2009

AARP Urges Burgess To Act On Health Care Blog
By Kathy Aljoe, Lewisville resident and AARP volunteer

As the national conversation on health care reform reaches a tipping point, AARP volunteers in Lewisville are asking to have a conversation with Congressman Michael Burgess (R- 26th District of Texas) and his staff about the need for Congress to pass legislation to reform our health care system this year.

The national debate on health care reform has reached the moment of truth. Unemployment continues to rise, and skyrocketing medical costs are squeezing individuals, families, businesses, government and the nation as a whole. The nation’s broken health care system has finally reached the top of the nation’s agenda, and it’s time to tackle the problem.

In a recent TeleTown-hall meeting, Representative Burgess said that he prefers a consumer directed health plan, where employees contribute a small amount from each paycheck to be used when medical expenses arise. Consumers currently have this option; it’s called a medical savings account. The real problem is that many Americans can’t afford to set aside additional money for health care when they are already grappling with sky high premiums and deductibles.

What the TeleTown-hall failed to address is the needs of the more than 7 million Americans ages 50 to 64 who are uninsured today. Twenty percent of Texans ages 50 to 64 lack health insurance, some of whom work for employers that don’t offer insurance, others lost coverage when they lost their jobs, still others can’t afford the high premiums based on their age and medical history.

Drug costs are soaring, and 28 percent of Texans enrolled in the Part D drug benefit find themselves in the now infamous “doughnut hole,” potentially facing thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

Statistics alone fail to adequately capture the human toll suffered by those who can’t afford health care. At AARP, we hear their stories all the time: Cancer patients who cannot afford health insurance; people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and heart disease who cannot fill their costly prescriptions; workers who quit their jobs to care for ailing spouses because they cannot afford to pay for in-home care; people who burn through their life savings, lose their homes and end up in bankruptcy because someone got sick.

The mounting problems in health care breed cynicism, stress and even despair. As a patient who is fast running out of money put it: “So much for the American dream.”

AARP is fighting to make the system work for everyone. We believe that Congress should take the following six steps to guarantee that all Americans have the choice of quality health care plans they can afford:
  • Guarantee affordable coverage for Americans ages 50-64;
  • Close the Medicare Part D coverage gap or “doughnut hole”;
  • Create access to generic versions of costly biologic drugs used to treat cancer and other serious illnesses;
  • Prevent costly hospital readmissions by creating a Medicare follow up care benefit to help people transition home after a hospital stay;
  • Increase federal funding and eligibility for home and community based services through Medicaid so older Americans can remain in their homes as they age and avoid more costly institutional care; and
  • Improve programs that help low income Americans in Medicare afford the health care and prescription drugs they need.
Our health care system costs too much, wastes too much, makes too many mistakes and gives us back too little value for our money. This sad diagnosis is shared by many on both sides of the political aisle.

Yet while members of Congress disagree on details of health reform, the goal of affordable, accessible health care for all commands widespread support. So does the recognition that we all share responsibility to be part of the solution.

With costs rising and coverage shrinking, the need for fair, bipartisan measures to repair the system has never been so urgent. We believe that the costs of doing nothing are simply too high.

We have let our Congressman know that we want him to support these six measures to guarantee affordable, quality health care for all. Congress will be able to vote on health care reform this summer. There is no better time to fix our ailing health care system than now.

(Like Congressman Burgess Collin County's two congressmen, both Republicans,oppose President Obama's push for Health Care Reform and a Public Option Health Care Option. )

No comments:

Post a Comment