Thank you for contacting me regarding health insurance reform. I appreciate your taking the time to express your specific views on this important topic facing our nation.
As you know, many proposals have been put on the table for reforming our health care system to make it work for all Americans. I recognize there are many, often competing, philosophies and ideas on the best way to move forward. As your Senator, it is my job to listen closely to the various stakeholders involved in this process as well as actively seek out input from across the state to help inform my understanding of what is best for Colorado. One thing I firmly believe, however, is that the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable.
While we move forward in this debate, there are a number of key requirements which will guide my consideration. Any health reform must: 1) allow people who like the coverage they currently have to keep it; 2) bring costs down so that all Coloradans are able to cover their families while staying within their means; 3) preserve the critical doctor-patient relationship, ensuring that decisions about treatment are made by those who know the patient the best; 4) call for insurers to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions or medical history; and 5) be fiscally responsible. By ensuring that these pieces are part of reform, we can provide the stability in health care that is currently lacking for hard working Coloradans – stable costs, stable coverage, and stable quality. Cost-effective ideas to improve health like emphasizing prevention and wellness programs, early screening and diagnosis, and chronic disease management are just a few pieces of the puzzle that I think can help us get there.
Another important piece to the puzzle is ensuring that health reform expands access to care for those living in rural communities, which is why I recently introduced legislation known as the Rural Physician Pipeline Act of 2009 (S.1628). This bill is designed to improve health care in rural communities by helping medical schools establish programs to recruit and train medical students who want to practice in rural areas. The provisions in this legislation are based on a successful program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and there is evidence to suggest that, if similar programs are expanded, as called for in my bill, we can dramatically increase the number of rural doctors nationwide.
Additionally, health reform must include provisions aimed at helping to alleviate the financial burden placed on small business owners who struggle to provide health coverage to their employees. This is especially true for those small businesses that have seen the cost of coverage grow at such an alarming rate that they are unable to stay competitive in maintaining a talented pool of workers. Small businesses are the driving force of our economy and we must pass health insurance reform which provides them a pooled marketplace from which to purchase coverage and offers credits to make plans affordable.
Reforming our health care system will not be easy, but it is imperative. As Congress continues looking for the best ways to meet our nation’s health care challenges, please know that I will always keep the best interests of Coloradans in mind. Along the way, I will certainly remember your particular thoughts and concerns.
I will continue to listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say about matters before Congress, the concerns of our communities, and the issues facing Colorado and the nation. My job is not about merely supporting or opposing legislation; it is also about bridging the divide that has paralyzed our nation’s politics. For more information about my positions and to learn how my office can assist you, please visit my website at www.markudall.senate.gov.
United States Senator, Colorado