Perriello pushes middle ground on health reform

Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello is joining with a group of fellow freshmen Members of Congress in pushing for key changes to the health care reform proposals currently in the House. The group is urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to adopt proposals, including deficit neutrality, interstate competition, tort reform, and the “congressional option,” which largely came from constituent feedback during the August work period. 

“I know Virginians are deeply concerned about the rising cost of health insurance and finding a solution that will get costs under control while ensuring quality and patient choice. Getting my constituents’ feedback has been of primary importance to me, which is why I launched an online healthcare forum in June and held over 100 hours of town hall meetings in August,” said Perriello. “Now I’m taking this feedback directly to House leadership to make sure Virginians’ voices are heard.”

Perriello and fellow freshmen have been pushing these ideas since hearing from constituents in August. They recently formalized these requests in a letter that requests strong consideration of the following specific proposals for healthcare reform:
– Protect Medicare and extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund, including closure of the Medicare Part D prescription drug “doughnut hole” and empowering Medicare to negotiate cheaper drug prices;
– Guarantee 100 percent deficit neutrality, stating that “any health care reform legislation that increases our national deficit or debt is a non-starter for us.” Specifically, the letter suggests triggered across-the-board cuts in federal discretionary spending to ensure that savings goals are met;
– Increase competition across state lines as a key component of reducing costs, “allowing all businesses and individuals the opportunity to purchase insurance from entities beyond their state lines;”
– Address tort costs by reducing litigation, medical error, and overutilization, proposing real reforms such as “Certificate of Merit” provisions and “Early Offer” programs;
– Allow every American the opportunity to choose the same quality healthcare that Members of Congress enjoy, or what Perriello calls “the congressional option;”
– Incentivize wellness and preventive care and encourage personal responsibility for living healthier lifestyles; and

– Protect small businesses and allow them to calculate for themselves how health care reform would impact their bottom line. Previously Perriello and other Freshman had pushed successfully to expand protections of S corporations and other small businesses from proposed surcharges associated with the broader plan.

In the letter, the group also expresses gratitude for honoring their request to delay the vote until after the August recess so that they could have an extended conversation with the American people. They conclude by saying, “We came to Washington to put solving problems ahead of scoring political points, and to tackle the problems that neither party has been able to solve for a generation. We are ready to do our part in solving the great problems of our time, including energy independence, health care reform, and a 21st century security strategy. We are defined by a transformative pragmatism that asks first and foremost how we can solve the problem.”

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