Monday, February 4, 2008

Response from Senator Cardin

"Thank you for contacting me about the need for universal health coverage. Expanding health care access and coverage to all Americans is one of our most pressing domestic policy issues. This year, the number of uninsured people in the United States has reached an estimated 47 million, or one in every five people under 65. In Maryland, 16 percent of the population remains uninsured. The vast majority are members of working families, and their lack of insurance forces millions of them to go without needed care. With such a large percentage of Americans uninsured, our nation's public health status is at risk. We have a moral and practical obligation to address this crisis, which is why I support universal coverage that would save lives and make Americans healthier, reduce health care costs, and promote better quality of care. I believe the best option for universal coverage is to expand employer-based coverage. This would build on the structure of our current health care system, providing the opportunity for our employers and small businesses to be stay involved in providing health care to their employees. Employees benefit from group rates and more affordable coverage, and employers benefit from having a healthier, better cared for workforce. In addition, we need to continue to shore up public programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which provide coverage to America's seniors and poor, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was created in 1997 to provide coverage to American's uninsured children and today insures more than 6.8 million children and pregnant women. Thanks in part to these programs, the percentage of children without coverage has declined in recent years. This year, one of my top priorities will be the reauthorization of the SCHIP program. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I voted for specific funding to be made available so that states can expand their programs to cover even more children. Finally, I understand that simply providing insurance coverage means little if it is not comprehensive. Immoderately high deductibles or an unreasonably low lifetime cap on benefits can mean inadequate coverage. Reducing the ranks of the uninsured is also meaningless without true patient protections. I will urge my colleagues to pass a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights that includes independent review procedures for those who are denied treatment by their insurance plans. Again, thank you for sharing your concerns. Health care will remain one of my top priorities in the Senate. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this issue or any other issue of concern."

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Chronicling my adventures in proving that less is more. I'll learn to refashion/recycle clothes, prepare gourmet meals using as many natural/basic/raw ingredients as possible. I'll learn to spend less, live more, and reclaim those things that are truly valuable in my life.

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