By Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx)
Like a majority of Americans, including President Obama, I strongly believe it is time for us to reform our health care system. Right now, we are on track to double how much we spend on health care in America over the next three decades. This is putting U.S. businesses, large and small, at a disadvantage with their foreign competitors, and it is driving cuts in employee benefits and layoffs. The path we are on is unsustainable, but I know that enacting the reforms you and your family need and deserve is not an easy task.
That is why I have established a special health care information website called “Share Your Thoughts on Health Care Reform.” I want you to know about the steps Congress and the President are taking, but, more importantly, I want to hear your thoughts, ideas and concerns. The Share Your Thoughts on Health Care Reform website can be found at https://crowley.house.gov“>https://crowley.house.gov.
Reforming our health care system is first and foremost about giving Queens families peace of mind. We all want to ensure our loved ones, particularly our children and grandchildren, are provided with certain basic essentials, and access to affordable, high-quality health care is one of them. As your representative in Congress, I am committed to making sure health care is not a luxury for some, but a guaranteed benefit for all.
I believe strongly that Congress needs to develop a plan that will expand coverage, stabilize and reduce the cost of care, and protect you and your family’s right to get the coverage and treatment you need in consultation with your doctor, instead of insurance companies or government bureaucrats.
It is also about containing costs and keeping our nation economically competitive. The United States currently spends twice as much per capita on health care as almost any other industrialized nation. Despite our increased spending, we have higher numbers of uninsured people and an unhealthier population. That is because we are not investing our health care dollars wisely.
The time has come to redirect the money we are spending on health care. We need to invest in preventive medicine – like mammograms and physicals – so we avoid having to spend money on more expensive and invasive treatments down the road. We can catch diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma early, and sometimes prevent their onset altogether, but this will only happen if Americans have access to full health coverage, not just emergency rooms.
Health care reform will also have a significant effect right here in Queens. Within current bills being considered in Congress, there are great benefits for our seniors, small businesses and all individuals struggling with the rising cost of private health care.
-Saving 7,300 seniors real money. Right now, over 7,300 seniors in the 7th District hit the “donut hole” in the Medicare Part D program, which forces them to pay the full cost of their prescription medications until their total out-of-pocket spending reaches an unbearably high level. Seniors would receive immediate relief – seeing the cost of brand-name drugs cut in half and the gap in coverage for drugs drastically reduced and eventually eliminated.
-Help for 8,500 local small businesses. Under the plan, small businesses with 25 employees or fewer and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50 percent of the costs of providing health insurance. There are nearly 8,500 small businesses in the 7th District that could qualify for these credits – helping small businesses in Queens and the Bronx better manage the cost of providing health coverage to their employees.
-Fiscally responsible health care reform. The cost of health care reform under this plan is fully paid for, both by making current Federal health programs more efficient and through a surtax on the income of only the wealthiest individuals. This surtax would not affect 99.8 percent of taxpayers in the 7th Congressional district.
As Congress works to tackle this great and important issue, I want to hear from you. Is your family having trouble getting the care they need under the current system? Is the rising cost of health care hurting your small business?
Your input and your participation are critical to making sure we get health care reform done right. Please take a minute to visit my health care website, Share your Thoughts on Health Care Reform, to read about current myths and facts, fill out a health care survey, and to send me your stories and experiences. Together, we can make sure that health care reform improves the health and well-being of all Queens families.