Heitkamp: Good and Bad in decision - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Heitkamp: Good and Bad in decision

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Full Statement from Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp:

Statement of Heidi Heitkamp on Supreme Court Decision

Mandan, N.D. -- Former North Dakota attorney general and U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp issued the following in reaction to media reports of today's U.S. Supreme Court's decision regarding the Affordable Care Act:

"There are good things in the health care bill, like keeping insurance companies from dropping people for pre-existing conditions, closing the Medicare Donut Hole, and allowing parents to keep their children covered until they turn 26," said Heitkamp. "Today's decision is a chance to finally put two years of political posturing and gridlock on pause, and do what's right for North Dakota. Moving forward, I'll work with both parties to control costs, keep the good pieces intact and fix the bad pieces, like the individual mandate."

Background: Keep the Good
Pre-Existing Conditions:
More than 120 million Americans under the age of 65 -- including Heidi -- have a "pre-existing condition" such as cancer. Part of making coverage secure means making sure insurance companies can no longer deny care for pre-existing conditions. In 2011, Rick Berg voted to allow insurance companies to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. [Vote 14, 1/19/11]
Donut Hole: Until 2010, Medicare's prescription drug benefit plan forced North Dakota seniors to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs after their annual drug expenses exceed $2,840, and full coverage doesn't resume until total drug spending hits $6,447 for the year. This gap or the "donut hole" was closed and has saved approximately 10,914 of North Dakota's seniors $9,802,921 on prescription drugs. In 2011, Rick Berg voted to kick nearly 11,000 of North Dakota's seniors back into the prescription drug donut hole. [HHS, accessed
6/28/12; Vote 14, 1/19/11]

Coverage for Young Adults: Young adults looking for work in an uncertain national economy can stay in their parents coverage until they turn 26. This is a common sense protection for young people  -- more than 3.1 million young adults now have coverage because of this reform. In 2011, Rick Berg voted to take this coverage away from thousands of young adults in North Dakota. [
Vote 14, 1/19/11]
Protecting North Dakota's Rural Hospital System -- The Frontier Amendment: The Affordable Care Act included the Frontier Amendment, which ensures the long-term viability of Critical Access Hospitals by increasing Medicare payments to rural health care providers by $650 million over the next ten years. The Bismarck Tribune's editorial board explained: "The Frontier Amendment made North Dakota and its peers part of a fair system. It gave the Frontier states an honest share of Medicare reimbursement. It would be inherently dishonest of Congress and the administration to return to an unfair system." [Conrad,
12/22/09; Bismarck Tribune, 10/25/11; Vote 14, 1/19/11]

Background: Fix the Bad
Repeal the Individual Mandate: There are some serious problems with the law like the federal mandate requiring you to buy health insurance and way too much red tape for small businesses.  All of that needs to be fixed, but the only way we can fix it is to fix Washington. Right now there are too many Democrats in Washington who won't admit there are problems with the law and too many Republicans like Rep. Berg who want to throw it all out, the good and the bad. Above all, changes to the health care law should make coverage more secure, not less. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report offering alternatives to the individual mandate that would incentivize health insurance enrollment, such as offering longer enrollment periods. [GAO,
Improve Cost Control: Spending on health care is projected 
19.3 percent of GDP by 2019. That kind of growth in spending in health care is simply not sustainable. Heidi will work with both parties to find ways we can cut down on the growth of health care costs such as giving state health insurance commissioners more authority to crack down on unfair rate increases, reducing waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and making it easier for medical supply companies to competitively bid for Medicare. In 2010 alone Medicare and Medicaid made some $70 billion in improper payments. Cutting down on these improper payments would help reduce costs and make Medicare stronger for our seniors. [CMS, 4/11/12; GAO, 3/9/11]

Repeal Restrictions That Limit What A Medical Savings Account May Cover. Heidi supports repealing a provision of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits the use of medical savings accounts, such as the Flexible Spending Arrangements and Health Savings Accounts, for payment of over the counter medications. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, individuals could use their medical savings accounts to pay for non-prescribed medicines. [Topeka Capital-Journal,

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