Several days ago I contacted NC Senator Richard Burr’s office via email and telephone message. I received no response. I was inquiring about a health care forum that was scheduled for today, Tuesday, September 1, 2009. I discovered today by an internet search, that Senator Burr is part of a forum with John McCain and other Republicans. What concerns me is that they are fielding questions from “invited parties.” Senator Burr is against the Obama backed public option and that is good. However, why is Senator Burr not hosting town hall meetings for the public?
From News 14 in the Carolinas:
“McCain brings health care forum to N.C. children’s hospital”
“Sen. John McCain will join a group of fellow republican senators in Charlotte on Tuesday for a discussion on health care reform.
McCain, along with Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., will take questions from invited parties involved in the health care debate and discuss ways to make health care more affordable, accessible and available for American families.
The stop at Levine Children’s Hospital is part of McCain and McConnell’s cross-country tour, where they have been discussing health care and taking questions in various cities from those involved in the issue. The GOP lawmakers have challenged the plan offered by President Obama that could create a government option for health care that would compete with private insurers.
Burr’s health care plan would raise money by taxing health benefits, then use the revenue to give people tax credits to buy their own care.”
“This is a Constitutional Town Hall Meeting in Raleigh to which Senators Kay Hagan, Richard Burr, Representatives Brad Miller, Bob Etheridge, & David Price were invited but refused the invitation to…”
From Senator Richard Burr’s website:
Reforming the Delivery of Health Care
Today, nearly 47 million people across America do not have health insurance, and this number is growing. In North Carolina alone, there are more than 1.5 million uninsured individuals.
Senator Burr believes we must make health insurance more accessible and affordable so that more families can have peace of mind that they can get quality medical care. As we search for long-term solutions, however, we must make sure people have the ability to choose their own doctor.
While some politicians support government-run health care, Senator Burr has a different approach. In order to give individuals and families choices in their health coverage and to avoid a one-size-fits-all program, we need to give people the means to purchase their own health insurance that fits their needs and the needs of their families. To address the growing problem of employees having limited or no access to employer-provided coverage, Senator Burr believes we should foster a broad choice of health insurance plans that stay with you through job and life changes so that you can access care when you need it. Americans should control their own insurance and not fear losing it with job changes.
As Congress works on proposals to reform health care system, Senator Burr firmly believes that any plan must:
Guarantee that every American can get affordable coverage
Demand we get more value for our health care dollar rather than imposing a new tax or passing on a new obligation to future generations
Transform the health care system so that we focus on keeping people healthy and well instead of only treating them when they are sick
Make health coverage affordable for those with pre-existing conditions
End the current discrimination in the tax code that benefits the wealthy and corporations but fails the poor and those who cannot get coverage through their employer
Guarantee that health care is accessible when people want it, where people want it
Be sustainable so that it will be there for future generations
With these goals in mind, Senator Burr recently joined with Senator Tom Coburn and Representatives Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes to introduce the Patients’ Choice Act, a bill 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 would transform our health care system through the following key reforms:
Puts affordable coverage and choice within reach of all Americans. This is accomplished by first ending the discrimination in the tax code that rewards corporations and employers yet offers no benefit to the unemployed or those who do not have access to coverage through their job. Specifically, the Patients’ Choice Act would shift health care tax benefits to individuals and families, regardless of employment status, in the form of a tax credit worth about $2,200 for individuals and $5,700 for families. Americans would receive this benefit upfront, so they would not have to wait until they file their tax returns to get it. And Americans would be eligible for this benefit regardless of how much they pay in taxes. What’s more, under this plan, if you like the health care you have, you can keep it – but you’ll have more money in your pocket because you will still receive the tax credit.
Prevents cherry picking by guaranteeing access to coverage. The Patients’ Choice Act prevents cherry picking – when insurance companies choose to cover only healthy patients – by adjusting risk across insurance companies through an innovative reform called State Based Health Exchanges, which would be a voluntary, one-stop marketplace of insurance plans. These state exchanges — which would be open to all Americans — would offer a broad range of plans but all would be required to have the same standard benefits as those enjoyed by Members of Congress. Through this innovative reform, no individual could be turned down based on their age or health. This is because insurers who do cherry pick healthy patients would be penalized, and those that cover patients with pre-existing conditions and emphasize prevention and wellness would be rewarded.
Strengthens the health care safety net. Currently, about 40 percent of doctors and hospitals do not accept Medicaid patients because payments are so low. This means that needy moms and kids may have health coverage, but poor access to health care. The Patients’ Choice Act would remove the stigma from Medicaid recipients by giving them the ability to purchase the health coverage and care they need from any provider. We also provide simple new opportunities for automatic enrollment to help people who need coverage.
The United States currently spends twice as much on health care per person than other industrialized nations, yet we are not twice as healthy. The solution is not for the federal government to spend and tax Americans more, the answer is to get more value for our health care dollar through more choices. And this is exactly what the Patients’ Choice Act would accomplish.
Senator Burr understands the growing cost of health insurance, and as a Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, he will continue to work on solutions to this problem.”