Joe Biden on Health Care
Democratic Sr Senator (DE); nominee for Vice President
PALIN: He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so they can purchase their own health care coverage. That's budget neutral. That doesn't cost the government anything as opposed t Barack Obama's plan to mandate health care coverage and have a universal government-run program.
BIDEN: McCain's health care plan, you know, it's with one hand you giveth, the other you taketh. You know how John McCain pays for his $5,000 tax credit a family will get? He taxes as income every one of you who has a health care plan through your employer. That's how he raises $3.6 trillion: taxing your health care benefit, which his website points out will go straight to the insurance company. Then you're going to have to replace the plan you get through your employer--on average it costs $12,000--you have to replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere.
A: Yes, I do.
Q: How would you pay for it?
A: I would pay for it by three ways. 1) I start off dealing with going into a prevention-and-treatment mode here that required us to simplify and modernize the system. That could save $100 billion a year in redundancy that goes on right now. 2) I would immediately provide for catastrophic health insurance for all Americans, and I'd immediately move for insuring every single child in America. That would cost less than what the top 1% tax break costs, $85 billion a year. 3) Then what I would do is I would move to insuring everyone through one of two vehicles. Either a system we work out among the stakeholders, an agreement that everyone essentially gets Medicare from the time you're born or a system whereby everyone can buy into the federal system. Those who don't have the means to buy in, then you subsidize them into the system. I would pay for that by direct revenues.
A: Absolutely. We have to view it in three ways. Prevention. You know, an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure is real. We virtually do not have anything that rewards those people who are engaged in their physician's or insurer's companies that emphasize prevention. The second thing we have to do is we have to provide for changing the way we think of it as an employer-based system totally. We have an overwhelming opportunity now to get universal health care, because business needs more than labor or business needs it more than the uninsured. They cannot compete internationally. We have to think about it really differently, but the delivery of health care we have to think about differently, too. The idea we're not going to be opening up little clinics in shopping centers all across America that is going to generate avoidance of operating of emergency rooms is just not reasonable.
A: We need not just 100,000 new cops, but 100,000 new nurses that we fund in order to make things better. We have to be in a position where we don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. In the first year, I'd insure every single, solitary child in America and make sure catastrophic insurance exists, and for every single person in America, while we move toward a national health care system covering anybody.
BIDEN: You're asking, how do we prevent these 17-year-olds from getting HIV? All the things that were said here [by the other candidates] are good ideas; but they don't prevent that. There's neglect on the part of the medical and the white community focusing on educating the minority community out there. I spent last summer going through the black sections of my town, trying to get black men to understand it is not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no, getting people in the position where testing matters. I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There's no shame in being tested for AIDS.
OBAMA: I got tested with my wife Michelle, in public, when we were in Kenya.
BIDEN: And I got tested to save my life, because I had 13 pints of blood transfusion.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment is to means test Medicare Part D the same way we means test Medicare Part B. An individual senior making over $82,000 a year, or a senior couple making over $164,000, would be expected to pay a little over $10 a month extra. That is all we are doing. This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BAUCUS: The problem with this amendment is exactly what the sponsor said: It is exactly like Part B. Medicare Part B is a premium that is paid with respect to doctors' examinations and Medicare reimbursement. Part D is the drug benefit. Part D premiums vary significantly nationwide according to geography and according to the plans offered. It is nothing like Part B.
Second, any change in Part D is required to be in any Medicare bill if it comes up. We may want to make other Medicare changes. We don't want to be restricted to means testing.
Third, this should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 42-56
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. COBURN: The underlying legislation, S.1200, does not fix the underlying problems with tribal healthcare. It does not fix rationing. It does not fix waiting lines. It does not fix the inferior quality that is being applied to a lot of Native Americans and Alaskans in this country. It does not fix any of those problems. In fact, it authorizes more services without making sure the money is there to follow it.
Those who say a failure to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a violation of our trust obligations are correct. However, I believe simply reauthorizing this system with minor modifications is an even greater violation of that commitment.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. DORGAN: It is not more money necessarily that is only going to solve the problem. But I guarantee you that less money will not solve the problem. If you add another program for other Indians who can go somewhere else and be able to present a card, they have now taken money out of the system and purchased their own insurance--then those who live on the reservation with the current Indian Health Service clinic there has less money. How does that work to help the folks who are stranded with no competition?
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 28-67
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. It meets the concerns expressed in the President's veto message [from HR976]:
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. DEAL: This bill [fails to] fix the previous legislation that has been vetoed:
Veto message from President Bush:
Like its predecessor, HR976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.
It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.
Opponents support voting NO because:
Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.
Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 55-42 (3/5ths required)
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 - A bill to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers.
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( * if new to the Senate)
AK:*Begich over Stevens
DE:Biden and Kaufman
GA:Chambliss v.Martin (Dec. 2 runoff)
MN:Coleman v.Franken (recounting as of Dec.1)
NC:*Hagan over Dole
NH:*Shaheen over Sununu
OR:*Merkley over Smith
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