Tuesday, February 08, 2011

In response to your letter about health care reform

Dear Rosey,
Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns about the health care reform law. While we may disagree about the merits of this law, I value knowing your views on this important matter and I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective.

As you know, President Obama signed into law comprehensive health care reform legislation, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in March 2010. I support this legislation because it is clear that our current health care system is no longer working for many Americans. Too many are without insurance; too many others fear they will lose coverage when they need it most; too many families are going bankrupt and too many businesses are hampered because of spiraling health care costs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will end some of the worst health insurance company abuses and give millions of families and small business owners better choices for affordable health care.

Since this health care reform legislation became law, several important improvements to health insurance policy and patient rights have already come into effect. Small businesses are eligible for tax credits of up to 35 percent of their premium costs. Insurance companies are banned from dropping coverage when a person becomes sick, and from imposing lifetime limits on coverage. Many people with pre-existing health conditions now have access to affordable insurance and children with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied health insurance coverage. In addition, this legislation helps close the "doughnut hole" gap in Medicare Part D coverage that was leaving many senior citizens stranded with thousands of dollars in prescription drug costs. Also, because of this law, patients are protected from arbitrary or excessive insurance premium changes.

While I believe the 2010 health care reform law is an important step toward the goal of accessible and affordable health care, I remain open to ideas that build on and improve the work we have started. In the months and years ahead, Congress will undoubtedly face challenging new decisions in the effort to improve health care in this country and I welcome ideas about how to improve upon the law without taking away its many benefits for working families and small businesses.

Again, I appreciate your input. I hope you will continue to send your observations and thoughts my way.

All my best,

Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator

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