Congressman Jim Matheson Responds to my E-mail on Health Care Reform

Dear Mr. (Nunya Bidness),

Thank you for writing regarding health care reform. I appreciate your interest in the issues facing our country and state, and I am glad for the opportunity to respond to your inquiry. By contacting me on issues of importance to you, I can better represent Utah in Congress.

As someone whose family includes doctors who count many Utahns as patients, and as a father who wants a healthy future for his children, I have a deep commitment to passing comprehensive, deficit-neutral health care reform. Such an overhaul should lower costs for Utah families and businesses, increase the quality of care provided and expand access for every American.

The President has said he will not sign a health care bill that 1) adds to the deficit and 2) fails to lower the excessive growth of long term health costs. I share those goals. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill recently considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee fails on both counts.

Skyrocketing health care costs are straining family budgets, threatening the survival of small businesses and exploding our national deficit. Even Utahns with good insurance coverage know they are paying more and more in premiums, deductibles, and co-payments and they are getting less and less. Over the past nine years, premiums have doubled, now rising at twice the rate of wages. Health care spending now consumes 30% more of state and local budgets than it did 20 years ago, leaving less money for things like schools and public safety and increasing pressure to raise taxes.

The same is true for our country as a whole. Health care costs are the number one driver of our long-term deficits, which is why achieving health care reform is the single most important thing we can do for our nation's long-term fiscal health.

The status quo is unsustainable, and to preserve what is best about our system, we have to fix what is broken. If we do not contain explosive costs, everyone's insurance will be in jeopardy. Premiums will continue to rise, benefits will erode and the number of uninsured, including 298,000 uninsured Utahns, will swell.

In Congress, I have proposed several substantive ideas to reach bi-partisan, common-sense, responsible health care reform legislation. Some of these ideas have been incorporated, but several key concerns have yet to been addressed.

My view is that in order to get real cost savings, we must reform the incentives of a system that equates expensive care with better care. For example, Utah has been at the forefront of innovation in cost-saving health information technology and the development of practices which improve the quality of care and reduce costs. National health care reform should build on Utah 's example. Additionally, we need to align incentives for doctors and hospitals so that they are reimbursed based on the quality of care they provide, not on how many tests or procedures they prescribe. Currently, one-third of the $2 trillion spent on health care in this country goes towards administrative costs, not to patient care. Lastly, we must cut down on fraud, waste, and abuse while developing a more efficient, less bureaucratic system.

There is broad consensus that Americans currently without insurance should be provided an opportunity to receive affordable coverage, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because people without insurance have to be treated in emergency rooms, and then we all end up paying for it. I also believe insurers should not be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, should not be able to hike premiums when people become ill, and should invest in prevention and wellness programs.

Because the issue of health care reform is so complex and the imperative to get it right is so strong, I believe it is worth taking the necessary time to debate, amend, review and discuss with my constituents any comprehensive bill. We can accomplish this and bring affordability, stability and better health to all of us.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns with me. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact my office.


Member of Congress


Saving Ourselves said...

Some of these paragraphs sound mysteriously just like the one I received from Specter. Wonder if they all share form letters?

Nifty Nick said...

It certainly wouldn't shock me. Dem leaders pass out some form letters, ask them to personalize them a bit. Makes sense.

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