Michael Bennet on Health Care
Democratic Presidential Challenger; CO Senator
BENNET: I agree that it makes it much more likely. I believe we should finish the job we started with the Affordable Care Act with a public option that gives everybody the chance to pick whether they want private insurance or public insurance. [My plan] requires the drug companies to be negotiated with by Medicare and it provides competition. That is totally different from the plan that Senator Warren and Senator Sanders and Senator Harris have proposed, which would make illegal employer based health insurance in this country and massively raise taxes on the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion. We don't need to do that. It doesn't make sense for us to take away insurance from half the people and put huge taxes on almost everybody. When we pass a public option, [we] trust the American people to make the right decision, and have universal healthcare in this country in two years.
Bennet: We need to be honest about what's in this plan. It bans employer based insurance and taxes the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion. Do you know how much that is? That is 70 percent of what the government will collect in taxes over the next 10 years.
NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio: What he's saying is absolutely inaccurate about taxes. Americans right now are paying so much money for their health care, ask people about the reality of premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses.
Bennet: Bernie Sanders says it will cost $32 trillion and that we're going to have to raise those taxes to pay for it. You can't hide from the truth.
Sen. Bernie SANDERS: Every other major country on Earth, including Canada, somehow has figured out a way to provide health care to every man, woman, and child.
Q: Senator Bennet, you want to keep the system that we have in place with ObamaCare [instead of Bernie's single-payer system]. Is that enough to get us to universal coverage?
BENNET: I believe that will get us the quickest way there. There are millions of people in America that do not have health insurance today because they make too much money to be on Medicaid [but] can't afford health insurance. When Senator Sanders says that Canada is single payer, there are 35 million people in Canada. There are 330 million people in the United States, the number of people on a public option could easily be 35 million. And for them, it would be Medicare-for-all. But for others that want to keep it, they should be able to keep it. And I think that will be the fastest way to get where we need to go.
Democratic senator Michael Bennett told a local paper that single payer wasn't "the right approach to solving our health-care problems," partly due to the "massive tax increase" involved.
Michael Bennet: The first thing we need to address is the cost of care. I have a bipartisan bill that would help seniors on Medicare get to their appointments, get the medicine they need, focus on preventative care and coordinate their care between doctors and facilities. 15% of Medicare recipients account for $300 billion in Medicare spending. We could cut billions off that without affecting benefits. I've also cosponsored the Health Care Premium Reduction Act, which will help states fight big premium increases. We also need to do more to ensure people have access to lifesaving drugs they need. One of my proudest legislative accomplishments was working with Republicans to cut through red tape and speed up the approval process for potentially life-saving treatments and drugs. And we need to take serious steps towards transparency across the health care sector--drugs, hospitals, and insurance companies.
Bennet fired back, "Quite the contrary." He said that he has backed fiscally sound measures, including the health care overhaul. Bennet described Medicare cuts included in that new law as "the heart" of the plan.
Bennet was pleased to hear it. "I hope you'll call your friends who are pushing an ad accusing me of cutting $500 billion out of Medicare," he told Buck. "That $500 billion savings in Medicare is the very heart of the health care reform bill."
Bennet said he too wanted to change the new Democratic health legislation, but not its essentials. "I'm not going to repeal it because people with pre-existing conditions will again be denied health care coverage," he said.
Buck insisted he would repeal it--getting a cheer from supporters. Buck said the law was produced by a "corrupt" process, especially the special concessions granted Nebraska and Louisiana senators to win their votes.
[Sen. DeMint, R-SC]: The Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy. Republicans are trying to save Medicare & make sure there are options for seniors in the future. Medicare will not be there 5 or 10 years from now. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate [Congress will] pay.
[Sen. Ayotte, R-NH]: We have 3 choices when it comes to addressing rising health care costs in Medicare. We can do nothing & watch the program go bankrupt in 2024. We can go forward with the President's proposal to ration care through an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats. Or we can show real leadership & strengthen the program to make it solvent for current beneficiaries, and allow future beneficiaries to make choices.
Opponent's Arguments for voting No:
[Sen. Conrad, D-ND]: In the House Republican budget plan, the first thing they do is cut $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the wealthiest among us, they give them an additional $1 trillion in tax reductions. To offset these massive new tax cuts, they have decided to shred the social safety net. They have decided to shred Medicare. They have decided to shred program after program so they can give more tax cuts to those who are the wealthiest among us.
[Sen. Merkley, D-TK]: The Republicans chose to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan reopens the doughnut hole. That is the hole into which seniors fall when, after they have some assistance with the first drugs they need, they get no assistance until they reach a catastrophic level. It is in that hole that seniors have had their finances devastated. We fixed it. Republicans want to unfix it and throw seniors back into the abyss. Then, instead of guaranteeing Medicare coverage for a fixed set of benefits for every senior--as Medicare does now--the Republican plan gives seniors a coupon and says: Good luck. Go buy your insurance. If the insurance goes up, too bad.
Status: Failed 40-57
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.
Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.
Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D, NJ-6): In the last Congress, we passed legislation that enjoyed bipartisan support as well as the support of the American people. Unfortunately, it did not enjoy the support of the President, who vetoed our bill twice, and went on to proclaim that uninsured children can simply go to the emergency room to have their medical needs met. As the Nation moves deeper into a recession and unemployment rates continue to rise, millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the uninsured, many of whom are children. We can't delay. We must enact this legislation now.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ROY BLUNT (R, MI-7): This bill doesn't require the States to meet any kind of threshold standard that would ensure that States were doing everything they could to find kids who needed insurance before they begin to spend money to find kids who may not have the same need. Under the bill several thousands of American families would be poor enough to qualify for SCHIP and have the government pay for their health care, but they'd be rich enough to still be required to pay the alternative minimum tax. The bill changes welfare participation laws by eliminating the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to lawfully reside in the country before they can participate in this program. In the final bill, we assume that 65% of the children receiving the benefit wouldn't get the benefit anymore. It seems to me this bill needs more work, would have benefited from a committee hearing. It doesn't prioritize poor kids to ensure that they get health care first.
The Christian Coalition voter guide [is] one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections. This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.
The CC survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Federal government run health care system"
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.
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 or Pay Fines' The Christian Coalition notes, "You can help make sure that voters have the facts BEFORE they cast their votes. We have surveyed candidates in the most competitive congressional races on the issues that are important to conservatives."
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