This is the response, courtesy an email received today -
Congressman Mitchell has an online constituent survey regarding health care reform here.
Thank you for contacting me about the state of health care in our country. Like most Arizonans, I believe that rising costs and the threat to so many of losing coverage is cause for careful and extensive consideration of reform.
As I meet with people throughout the district, it seems that everyone has a personal story about health care. Many of these stories show the incredible dedication, skill, and compassion that doctors and health care workers provide. Too often, however, these stories reveal that as health care costs continue to rise, many Arizonans are increasingly worried that they will be unable to access the health care they need or see the doctor of their choice. This is simply unacceptable.
Since 2000, health care premiums have more than doubled and small businesses have faced a 30 percent increase in health care costs. These dramatic increases have already forced many employers to reduce coverage or shift costs to employees. This has hurt patients seeking access to quality care, employers struggling to remain competitive, and doctors caring for patients.
We need a comprehensive solution to the health care crisis that not only provides affordable and quality health coverage for all Americans, but one that preserves choice and rewards quality. Reform should not leave individuals with fewer options, should not add to the national deficit, and should not leave doctors with inconsistent and low reimbursement rates as is often the case with Medicare.
The freedom to choose your own health care plan is important. If you like your current plan and doctor, I believe you should be able to keep them. However, if you are underinsured or want another plan that would better fit your needs, you should have the choice and ability to access it.
The current health care system is straining both employers and employees. Employers are having a hard time meeting the health insurance needs of their employees, and we are seeing workers basing their employment decisions increasingly on health care. This is not only frustrating for all involved; it is economically inefficient, and bad for business. I believe we need to find a way to make health insurance coverage portable, so consumers can take it with them from job to job and from state to state.
We also need to prevent insurance companies from 'cherry picking,' insuring only the healthiest patients, while discriminating against people based on a pre-existing conditions or age.
In order to establish a health care system that will cost less yet cover more, it is important that we address the issues that are driving up costs in our doctors' offices, clinics, and hospitals.
Too often, Americans put off seeing a doctor and only receive medical attention when potentially preventable problems reach a crisis point. This not only creates needless health complications, but also drives up the cost of health care for all Americans by increasing the incidence of chronic, and costly, disease. Instead, we must encourage Americans to seek preventative health care, which is less expensive, and has the potential to save millions of American lives.
Accordingly, I also strongly support a health care system that rewards healthy lifestyles and personal responsibility. As a former teacher of almost 30 years, I believe that our children should be taught to make healthy choices from a young age. Promoting healthy eating and exercise habits in childhood educate children to practice a health lifestyle and will ultimately prevent them from costly surgeries and doctors' visits later on in life.
Additionally, we need to take full advantage of technological advances, helping to reduce costs for doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies. Our doctors are bogged down by a paper record system which is time-consuming, difficult to store, and subject to human error. Health Information Technology (HIT), or a digital system of electronic medical records, would lower costs while reducing sometimes deadly doctor and pharmacist error.
In order to fix our health care system so it works for everyone, we must work with all stakeholders: patients, employers, businesses large and small, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, schools, and all levels of government.
On July 14, 2009, H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Choices Act was introduced by Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, and referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Oversight and Government Reform, and Budget.
Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as the House begins reviewing this legislation, as well as other efforts to reform our nation's health care system.
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you have additional comments or concerns.
If you would like to receive email updates about how I am working on behalf of Arizona's 5th Congressional District, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter at http://www.mitchell.house.gov/.
Harry E. Mitchell
Member of Congress