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As House Introduces Bill, Congressman Higgins Advocates for Patient-Centric, Physician-Driven, Public Not-For-Profit Health Plan

Jul 14, 2009
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer outlining components essential to a national health care reform policy that benefits the American people.  Leadership in the House of Representatives formally introduced a Health Care Reform bill today, Tuesday, July 14.

“The United States spends more per capita on health care than any country in the world, but based on most health statistics, we are already behind and falling further,” said Congressman Higgins.  “By using existing models right here in the U.S. that have seen success, health care reform will lead to better outcomes, lower costs, greater flexibility and higher quality.” 

In his letter Congressman Higgins notes, “In 2007, while inflation was at 2.6% health premiums for the average family increase by 6.7%.”  Without reform, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise $1,800 every year. 

President Obama cites the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic as prototypes for effective health care delivery systems.  Congressman Higgins has spoken personally to doctors and leaders at both institutions.  Below are highlights of Congressman Higgins proposal, based on those conversations and additional research and discussions:

1. The option should be patient-centric and physician-driven.  The plan should free doctors to be doctors, by encouraging highly integrated medical practices, such as the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics, in which doctors are compensated for the quality of care they provide to a patient, not the quantity of services they administer. 

2. The option must remove the financial incentives that drive overutilization and wasteful, unnecessary medical procedures.  We should compensate physicians and medical staff for the quality of care -- not the volume of care -- they administer.  As a result, patients receive high quality care while holding down costs by decreasing overutilization. 

3. The option should be highly transparent.  We should adopt a system of transparent quality measurements established by physicians to determine best practices.  It should keep pace with new treatments that become available through ongoing medical research. 

4. The option must focus on prevention and wellness.  70% of chronic diseases, and the cost associated with treating them, are caused by three factors: smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.  This health care plan, in order to meet the objectives of improving outcomes and reducing costs, must in a substantial way make a commitment to fighting obesity and smoking and promoting exercise and healthy lifestyles. 

According to the Center for American Progress, in New York 1,190 people are losing their health care every day, due to the current economic climate.  Since 2007 our state alone has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of uninsured. 

“Health care costs are crippling American families and our economy,” added Higgins.  “Americans desperately need and deserve better and more affordable health care and must work to make it happen.”

The draft bill currently under discussion in three committees in the House, including Ways & Means, would:  allow patients to keep their doctor and existing plan if they like it; eliminate co-pays and deductibles for preventive care; abolish rate increase for pre-existing conditions; cap out-of-pocket expenses; provide oral, hearing and vision care; end the practice of lifetime limits on how much insurance companies will pay; and close the Medicare Part D “donut hole.”

Click Here to see a copy of Congressman Higgins’ Letter