Monday, July 13, 2009

IF you want to Listen or Watch the Senate Hearings this Week for Sotomayor or Healtcare Reform...and you don't have cable... try this.

Healthcare is carried in an individual box at the C-SPAN website.
I missed the Sotomajor Hearing and instead watched and listened to the healthcare hearing at the link below. Got to watch Coburn and Burr introduce an ALTERNATIVE BILL to what was being discussed. Details are presented below. They did a good job of presentation and you should review what is provided below, as I will do over the next week.


Online access for the Healthcare Hearings:


Coburn and Burr introduce Alternative healthcare reform legislation today: Bicameral Coalition of Reformers Unveil “The Patients’ Choice Act of 2009”

WASHINGTON – Earlier today, U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) introduced health care reform legislation that delivers on the shared principles of promoting universal access to quality, affordable health care, and does so without adding billions of dollars in new debt or taxes.

“The Patients’ Choice Act of 2009,” transforms health care in America by strengthening the relationship between the patient and the doctor; using choice and competition rather than rationing and restrictions to contain costs; and ensuring universal, affordable health care for all Americans. “The Patients’ Choice Act” promotes innovative, State-based solutions, along with fundamental reforms in the tax code, to give every American, regardless of employment status, age, or health condition, the ability and the resources to purchase health insurance. The comprehensive legislation includes concrete prevention and transparency initiatives, long overdue reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, investments in wellness programs and health IT, and more.

“As a practicing physician, I have seen first-hand how giving government more control over health care has failed to make health care more affordable and accessible. The American people deserve health care reform that will work, not another round of so-called reform that repeats the same failed policies of the past. Congress and the administration have the opportunity to pursue bold reform and a fresh start. The Patients’ Choice Act will provide every American with access to affordable health care without a tax increase, more debt and waiting lines,” Dr. Coburn said.

“The American health care system needs a complete transformation,” Senator Burr said. “The Patients’ Choice Act will finally enable Americans to own their health care instead of being trapped in the current system, which leaves people either uninsured, dependent on their employer, or forced into a government program. With a focus on prevention and wellness and covering those with pre-existing conditions, the Patients’ Choice Act will make health care affordable and accessible to all Americans.”

“Both parties need to step up to the plate with specific solutions to our nation’s health care crisis,” added Ryan. “The Patients’ Choice Act represents a clear alternative to those who seek to empower Washington at the expense of the individual, and I am hopeful that our efforts can help push Congress to enact a more sensible health care reform bill this year. The Patients’ Choice Act proves that America can have universal health care coverage without the government running our health care system.”

Nunes stated, “The American people deserve a health care system that is centered on their individual needs. Our bill will allow us to achieve this goal, while improving health outcomes, lowering cost and guaranteeing access to health care for every single American.”

ALL OF THESE are active at the link above for further reading.....


Click here to view the entire bill text

Click here for the comprehensive summary.

Click here for the brief summary.

Click here for answers to common questions and myths.

Click here for a section-by-section summary.

Click here to read the Individual Auto-Enrollement Summary.

Gingrich Statement on the Patients’ Choice Act

Read the sponsor's editorial on PCA 2009.

Read the Americans for Tax Reform's letter.

Coburn discusses health care on C-Span's Washington Journal

Patients’ Choice Act 2009

The Patients’ Choice Act transforms health care in America: strengthening the relationship between the patient and the doctor; using the forces of choice and competition rather than rationing and restrictions to contain costs; and ensuring universal, affordable health care for all Americans.

Preventing Disease and Promoting Healthier Lifestyles

Each year, five chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes) cause two‐thirds of American deaths; treatment of these largely preventable diseases makes up 75 percent of total health care expenditures. Critical investments in public health and disease prevention will go a long way in restraining health care costs and improving the quality of Americans’ lives. The Patient’s Choice Act of 2009 would:

• Encourage increased coordination of federal prevention efforts and bring long‐overdue accountability to these
• Require CDC to undertake a national campaign highlighting science‐based health promotion strategies
• Equip recipients of Supplemental Nutritional Benefits with easily understandable information about nutritious
food options and target the use of food stamps to healthy food choices
• Invest $50 million annually for increased vaccine availability and bonus grants to states that achieve 90 percent
or greater coverage of CDC‐recommended vaccines
• Provide incentives for states to reduce rates of chronic disease like heart disease and diabetes

Creating Affordable and Accessible Health Insurance Options

Our health care system should be easier to navigate and provide integrated care in a more equitable manner. A vibrant market for health insurance that is consistent and fair will allow all Americans access to health coverage. The Patient’s Choice Act of 2009 would encourage states to establish rational and reasonable consumer protections, including the
• Creates State Health Insurance Exchanges to give Americans a one‐stop marketplace to compare different health insurance policies and select the one that meets their unique needs
• Gives Americans the same standard health benefits as Members of Congress, so all Americans have a wide range
of choices
• Protects the most vulnerable Americans to ensure that no individual would be turned down by a participating
Exchange insurers based on age or health
• Creates a non‐profit, independent board to risk adjust among participating insurance companies to penalize companies that “cherry pick” health patients and reward insurers that encourage prevention/wellness and cover patients with pre‐existing conditions
• Expands coverage through auto‐enrollment at state and medical points of service, for individuals who do not
select a plan at the beginning of the year
• Gives states the ability to band together in regional pooling arrangements, as well as the creation of robust high
risk pools, reinsurance markets, or risk adjustment mechanisms to cover those deemed ‘uninsurable’

Equalizes the Tax Treatment of Health Care, Empowering All Americans with Real Access to Coverage

Economic analysts across the political divide agree that the tax code is stacked in favor of the wealthy and those who get their health coverage through their employers, discriminating against the self‐employed, the unemployed, and small
businesses. The Patients’ Choice Act of 2009 would restore fairness in the tax code and give every American, regardless of employment status, the ability to purchase health insurance by:
• Providing an advanceable and refundable tax credit of $2,300 per individual or $5,700 per family
• Improving the operation of Health Savings Accounts [HSAs] by allowing health insurance premiums to be paid
with HSAs without a tax penalty
• Allowing preventative services to be covered by High Deductible Health Plans
• Increasing the amount of money an HSA owner may annually contribute to their account
Patients’ Choice Act
May 2009
Modernizing the Medicaid Benefit and Protecting Medicare Beneficiary Choice
The health security for low‐income families and American seniors is threatened by the outdated formulas and exploding
costs of Medicaid and Medicare. These vital programs require significant reforms to better balance value for those
beneficiaries in greatest need and protection for U.S. taxpayers. The Patients’ Choice Act would make important
improvements to both programs without limiting eligibility or benefits by:
• Integrating low‐income families with dependent children into higher‐quality private plans through direct
• Removing the stigma of Medicaid and providing access to the same coverage options available to all Americans
• Realigning responsibility between federal and state governments in order to better coordinate benefits by
requiring the Medicare program to assume Medicaid responsibility of premiums, cost‐sharing, and deductibles
for low‐income seniors
• Rebalancing long‐term care services to ensure choice between institutionalized and home‐based care
• Empowering Medicare beneficiaries with more choices and more power by reforming Medicare Advantage
• Allowing for the creation of Medicare Accountable Care Organizations that would improve payment to
physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and nurses for demonstrable improvements in quality and patient satisfaction
while reducing costs
• Requiring wealthy Medicare beneficiaries to contribute a little more for their care under Medicare Part D

Ensuring Compensation for Injured Patients

Our current legal system does a poor job at compensating patients for medical mistakes in a fair and efficient manner. Instead of nurturing an environment where medical professionals can openly learn from their mistakes, our legal system often forces doctors and patients into contentious courtroom disputes. The Patients’ Choice Act would reform this broken system that helps drive health care costs out of control by:

• Encouraging states to adopt a number of legal alternatives entirely run by the state that would include the establishment of expert medical panels to resolve disputes, creation of health courts, or a combination of both

Establishing Transparency in Health Care Price and Quality

For a vibrant health care market to function properly, patients must know what services cost and who provides the best service. Uniform and reliable measures of reporting quality and price information should be designed by the stakeholders in health care rather than the heavy‐hand of government. The Patients’ Choice Act would bring this much needed transparency into the health care market by:
• Creating a Healthcare Services Commission that relies on a public/private partnership to enhance the quality,
appropriateness and effectiveness of health care services through the publication and enforcement of quality
and price information
• Empowering the private sector – rather than Washington bureaucrats – to set standards on price and quality
with the input from all major stakeholders in health care, as well as the general public
• Ensuring that measures of effectiveness keep pace with innovation


Dr. Coburn to Introduce Comprehensive Health Care Bill Soon Republicans and ObamaCare
The Wall Street Journal

Republicans and ObamaCare

- The sound of silence is deafening.

Listen. That sound of silence? That's what's known as the united Republican response to President Barack Obama's drive to socialize health care.

The president has a plan, and he's laid it on the table. The industry groups that once helped Republicans beat HillaryCare are today sitting at that table. Unions are mobilized. A liberal umbrella group, Health Care for American Now, is spending $40 million to get a "public option," a new federal entitlement that would kill off private insurance. Democrats passed a budget blueprint that will allow them to cram through that "public option" with just 51 votes.

Republicans? They're trying to figure out what they think.

Well, not all of them. Earlier this week I ended up in the office of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, where the doctor was hosting North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr. The duo is, for the second time, crafting a comprehensive reform that would lower costs, cover the uninsured, and put Americans in control of their health care. And while the senators decline to talk GOP politics, their bill raises the multitrillion-dollar question: Will the party have the nerve or sense to coalesce behind some such conservative alternative to the Democratic product?

They'd better, because the days of Republicans winning these battles solely by spooking Americans are over. Phil Gramm, Harry and Louise might have scored with that approach in the 1990s, but the intervening years have brought spiraling costs and public unrest. Americans want a fix. Democrats promise one. The GOP can't tank the public option simply by complaining it will kill private insurance. The party has to finally elucidate how it plans to allow the private market to work.

Not that the senators don't think Republicans need to make clear to the country that the public option is, in Mr. Burr's words, "a fast track to a single-payer system." But they are also operating on the belief that Republicans must go beyond Band-Aid solutions to embrace, as Mr. Coburn puts it, a "complete transformation" of a system that is "structurally" flawed.

Their own bill overhauls the tax code, currently stacked in favor of corporate employees, to provide a tax credit to every American to purchase insurance. It expands health-savings accounts. It creates state health-insurance exchanges, where private insurers compete to cover Americans, including the uninsured. (This is partly modeled on the Medicare drug program, which has provided seniors with choice and held down costs.)

More broadly, it seeks to reorient financial incentives so that the system is no longer focused, as Mr. Coburn puts it, on "sick care," but on preventing the chronic diseases that eat 75% of health expenditures. These incentives would be used to lower costs and discourage insurers from cherry-picking patients. The bill also dives into Medicare and Medicaid reform.

Yet no small number of Senate Republicans are biding their time in Max Baucus land, waiting to see what the Democratic finance chairman produces as a "bipartisan" product. (Read: A bill the president wants.) This crowd has taken to heart Mr. Obama's accusation that they are the party of "no," and think it might be easier to be the party of Baucus, or the party of Baucus-lite, or the party of nothing whatsoever.

The White House is targeting folks like Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch and other Senate Republicans who back in 1997 voted for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which was pitched by Democrats at the time as a modest program to help poor kids. It has, of course, become exactly what Democrats always intended it to be: a ballooning federal entitlement that is today transferring middle-class children from private insurance onto the federal rolls. This might be thought of as a teachable moment. But now Republican "moderates" are all ears for the administration's soothing suggestions that perhaps the "public option" can be "structured" so as to protect private insurance. Uh-huh.

Another group of Republicans are still going 50 rounds over taxes -- namely, whether a deduction isn't a more principled and cleaner way than credits to equalize the tax treatment of insurance. This is a legitimate debate, but one that should've been had 10 years ago when Republicans were in the majority. While the GOP fiddled, Democrats focused the argument on "uninsureds," which has made a tax deduction (which would only cover those who pay taxes) even less politically palatable.

Over in the House time runs on, as the Republican leadership and a health-care working group continue to noodle over platforms, policies, egos and timing. Democrats intend to be debating their bill by June.

As for Messrs. Coburn and Burr, they spent a good half hour with me enthusiastically explaining why a competitive market would improve health, provide control and choice, lower costs, and tackle entitlements. It's a good pitch. If only the rest of America could hear the party make it.

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