Recess over: Time to get back to work on health care reform in Washington
Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 12:03 pm
Health care reform will be much on the collective mind of Congress as its lawmakers return to Washington this week after a month-long recess.
The president himself will address a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening on that very subject.
In a pre-recorded speech distributed to radio stations today, Congressman John Tanner told constituents in Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District there are four major areas that need to be addressed before a bill gets his support.
The four areas include:
• Cost savings. “Medical care and health insurance costs are skyrocketing for individuals, families, veterans, employers, medical providers and government,” he said. “We must look for savings without harming patient care.”
• Solving inefficiencies, which includes duplication in medical exams, prescriptions and consultations. “Investing in electronic medical records, better coordination among providers and addressing the practice of defense medicine will help save money and improve quality,” he said.
• All-inclusive, which means making sure that people with pre-existing conditions can get health care coverage. “Individuals should be able to get affordable, private health insurance, even with pre-existing conditions,” he said.
• Keep this one: “Our employer-based health care system.”
Back to Washington
“I do not feel these principles were adequately met in the version of health care reform legislation that came to the House Ways and Means Committee, so I voted against that version of the legislation,” Tanner said.
He said the Blue Dogs, a conservative group of House members, was instrumental in getting congressional leaders to delay a vote on any health care reform now pending in the House.
“We wanted to ensure members of Congress would have the August break in the legislative calendar to talk with our constituents,” said Tanner, a co-founder of the group. “As the House goes back into session, I will work with the Blue Dogs and other colleagues to address these principles with regard to health care reform.
“Health care is a very complicated issue that affects us all. This dialogue is just getting under way. There is no final health care bill in the House or Senate.
“Because accurate information is crucial in the discussion of any issue this complicated and important, I hope all Tennesseans will carefully follow the debate and seek informed answers in our system and fix what is broken.”
A personal issue
Health care, Tanner asserts, is a “highly personal and emotional issue, because we all have health issues.”
“Therefore, I have spent the past few weeks visiting the 19 counties that make up our congressional district,” he said. “I have talked with providers, patients, health care administrators, seniors, veterans, small business owners, civic leaders and others — those with health coverage and those without — about how our health care system works.
“Through face to face meetings with groups and individuals, plus a series of tele-town hall meetings, I have talked with more than 15,000 district residents during the August (recess). We are also hearing from thousands of Middle and West Tennesseans.
“Many people have ideas — sometimes similar, sometimes different — about how we can address these issues. Most of us agree that the goals in addressing health care are, keep what works in the current system and fix what is broken.”
Published in The Messenger 9.08.09