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Angus King on Health Care

Independent Former ME Governor

 


Transition to wellness-based prevention system

Q: How would you put Medicare on stronger financial ground and protect today's seniors and future retirees from the burden of rising health costs?

A: I believe the long-term answer for Medicare.is to transition away from our current fee-for-service system toward one that pays healthcare providers for keeping us well instead of only treating us when we are sick. This means more emphasis on primary case and prevention rather than only paying for procedures. In fact, a pilot program to do just this is now getting underway in the Bangor area under the leadership of Eastern Maine Health. A second change to current Medicare policy which would help substantially with its finances would be to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

Source: Bangor Daily News in 2012 AARP Senate Voter Guide , Aug 24, 2012

ObamaCare was not ambitious enough

King supports President Obama's health care law, in addition to not saying which party he would support to lead the Senate. He thinks the health care law was not ambitious enough. He opposes the prescription for Medicare in the House Republicans' budget as "a recipe for a tremendous shift to the elderly of their health care costs."
Source: New York Times, "Senate Control Could Hinge on Angus" , May 6, 2012

Fund prevention programs “Campaign for a Healthy Maine”

A substantial portion of the health care bill in Maine is avoidable, because it relates to health care costs we bring on ourselves - through choices about the way we live. Four chronic diseases - cardiovascular and lung disease, cancer, and diabetes- all related to smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet- kill 75% of Maine people.
    I propose that we use the money received from the national tobacco settlement primarily for a Campaign for a Healthy Maine, an initiative which empowers state agencies, communities, schools, and health care providers to effectively address this chronic disease epidemic [focusing on]:
  1. Prevention and cessation of smoking in Maine, especially among our young people.
  2. Promoting prevention measures within our schools and our communities.
  3. Alcohol and substance abuse prevention.
  4. A new psychiatric treatment center and investments in community mental health that will improve the delivery of these critical services.
Source: 2001 State of the State address to the Me. legislature , Jan 24, 2001

No federal pre-emption of employee health plan regulation.

King adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

In 1999, 42.6 million Americans did not have health insurance. All states have been fervently working to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, to make health insurance more affordable and secure, and to provide quality health care at a reasonable cost to the uninsured. However, the federal government has also expressed an interest in this issue. Any action taken at the federal level could have serious implications for traditional state authority to regulate the health insurance industry and protect consumers.

NGA’s Position

Although the Governors are extremely sensitive to the concerns of large multi-state employers, the fact remains that the complete federal preemption of state laws relating to employee health plans in the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is the greatest single barrier to many state reform and patient protection initiatives.

The Governors support efforts designed to enable small employers to join together to participate more effectively in the health insurance market. In fact, Governors have taken the lead in facilitating the development of such partnerships and alliances. However, these partnerships must be carefully structured and regulated by state agencies in order to protect consumers and small businesses from fraud and abuse and underinsurance. NGA opposes attempts to expand federal authority under ERISA. The Governors have identified the prevention of such federal legislation in the 107th Congress as a top legislative priority.

States have the primary responsibility for health insurance regulation. Across the nation, Governors are working to protect consumers and patients and to properly regulate the complicated health insurance industry.

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA13 on Oct 5, 2001

Merge Alzheimers diagnosis and care benefit.

King co-sponsored HOPE for Alzheimer's Act

Congressional Summary:The purpose of this Act is to increase diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, leading to better care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Congress makes the following findings:

  1. As many as half of the estimated 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease have never received a diagnosis.
  2. An early and documented diagnosis and access to care planning services leads to better outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
  3. Combining the existing Medicare benefits of a diagnostic evaluation and care planning into a single package of services would help ensure that individuals receive an appropriate diagnosis as well as critical information about the disease and available care options.

Proponent's argument for bill: (The Alzheimer's Association, alz.org). The "Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act" (S.709/H.R. 1507) is one of the Alzheimer's Association's top federal priorities for the 113th Congress. The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act would improve diagnosis of Alzheimer's diseas

Source: S.709/H.R. 1507 13-S0709 on Apr 11, 2013

Religious exemption from ObamaCare individual mandate.

King co-sponsored H.R.631 & S.352

Congressional Summary: To provide an additional religious exemption from the individual health coverage mandate. This Act may be cited as the 'Equitable Access to Care and Health Act' or the 'EACH Act'. The 'Religious Conscience Exemption' exempts individuals who are members of a recognized religious sect which relies solely on a religious method of healing, and for whom the acceptance of medical health services would be inconsistent with their religious beliefs.

Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (TheHill.com weblog, April 29, 2013): "We believe the EACH Act balances a respect for religious diversity against the need to prevent fraud and abuse," wrote Reps. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and William Keating (D-MA). "It is imperative we expand the religious conscience exemption now as the Administration is verifying the various exemptions to the individual mandate," they wrote. Religious exemption from ObamaCare has come up before, including contraception. The EACH Act, however, deals only with exemptions from the insurance mandate.

Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (CHILD, Inc. "Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty", Dec. 2014): The Christian Science church is pushing hard to get another religious exemption through Congress. The EACH Act exempts everyone with "sincerely held religious beliefs" from the mandate to buy health insurance. We are particularly concerned about uninsured children: hundreds of American children have died because of their family's religious objections to medical care. The EACH Act increases the risk to children in faith-healing sects and the cost to the state if the children do get medical care. Some complain that their church members should not have to pay for health care that they won't use. But insurance works on the assumption that many in the pool of policyholders will not draw from it. Most people with fire insurance don't have their homes burn, for example.

Source: EACH Act 15_S352 on Feb 3, 2015

Keep healthcare mandate, according to CC survey.

King opposes the CC survey question on healthcare mandate

The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Repealing the Nationalized Health Care System that Forces Citizens to Buy Insurance ' Christian Coalition's self-description: "Christian Voter Guide is a clearing-house for traditional, pro-family voter guides. We do not create voter guides, nor do we interview or endorse candidates."

Source: Christian Coalition Surve 18CC-5 on Jul 1, 2018

Protect state tobacco settlement funds from federal seizure.

King adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 53 Governors:

As you know, preserving and protecting the state tobacco settlement funds is the nation’s Governors’ highest priority. We strongly urge you to reach final agreement and pass the conference report on the emergency supplemental appropriations bill soon, and to retain the Senate provision that protects our settlement funds from federal seizure.

Many of our state legislatures are currently in session, and some have already completed work on their budgets. Therefore, it is critical that conferees reach agreement quickly on this issue. Governors are unified in their commitment to ensuring that the funds remain in the states and that there be no restrictions on states’ ability to tailor spending to meet the needs of their citizens.

We offer our strongest support for conferees to recede to the Senate version of the bill containing the Hutchison/Graham bipartisan tobacco recoupment protection legislation.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA31 on Apr 14, 1999

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Page last updated: Jul 11, 2020