Wyden, Bennett, Baird and Emerson Propose First Bipartisan, Comprehensive Bill in More than a Decade to Guarantee Health Coverage for All Americans
Washington, DC - Pointing to growing support in Congress to work now to fix America's health care system, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) and U.S. Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) today announced they are proposing the first bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform bill in more than a decade to guarantee health coverage for all Americans.
Wyden, Bennett, Baird and Emerson said the bipartisan response to the Healthy Americans Act (HAA), which Wyden introduced earlier this year, indicates that many in Congress prefer to work toward reforming health care now, instead of sitting on the sidelines until after the 2008 presidential elections. Baird and Emerson will be introducing a House version of the Healthy Americans Act.
The Healthy Americans Act, as introduced in the Senate:
Guarantees affordable, high quality, private health coverage for all Americans that can never be taken away;
Provides benefits equal to those of Members of Congress;
Gives incentives for individuals and insurers to focus on prevention, wellness and disease management;
Includes tough cost containment and saves $1.48 trillion over 10 years; and
Is fully paid for using the $2.2 trillion currently spent on health care in America.
"Our legislation is the first bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform bill in more than a decade to guarantee coverage for all Americans. Congress should seize on a unique opportunity to act on one of the most critical issues facing the nation - ensuring that all Americans have good, quality affordable health care," said Wyden, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. "The time to act is now, not 2009. We have bipartisan, bicameral legislation that is ready to go. Ignoring this opportunity would be a critical mistake."
"Today represents a new direction in the health care debate, and I am pleased to join as a cosponsor to Senator Wyden's Healthy Americans Act and I salute his leadership on this," Bennett said. "Our present health care system is based on outdated policies established in the 1940s and 1960s. This bill recognizes these current realities and puts forward a framework that will provide universal access to health care that is portable, permanent and subject to market forces. This is certainly something both Republicans and Democrats can get behind."
Bennett added, "This bill is not perfect, but it is the perfect bill to jumpstart this important dialogue. I ask my colleagues to join our bipartisan, bicameral effort to fix health care now."
"With 47 million uninsured Americans, the conversation about reforming this country's health care system must begin now," Baird said. "The Healthy Americans Act provides individuals with quality and comprehensive insurance regardless of their employment or income level. It saves nearly $1.5 trillion, and is fully paid for by what's already being spent on health care. The time to provide Americans with affordable, high quality coverage is now."
"It's no secret the health care system in America is in urgent need of reform. The uninsured and underinsured represent a gross inefficiency and a great unfairness in a system charged with the health of all American citizens. I am pleased to join this effort to begin the conversation about health care reform today, rather than continue to allow proper American health care coverage to become rarer and more exclusive," Emerson said.
To learn more about the Healthy Americans Act, visit Wyden's Web site at http://wyden.senate.gov/.