Tom Perriello | Fifth District Report
As Congress continues to work on health-care reform, I am focused on making sure the voices of Central and Southern Virginians are represented in the debate. I know Virginians are deeply concerned about getting health care costs under control, securing the insurance people already have, and taking care of our seniors. Getting my constituents’ feedback has been of primary importance to me, which is why I launched an online health-care forum (www.perriello.house.gov/healthcareforum) in June and held over 100 hours of town hall meetings in August. Now I’m taking your feedback directly to House leadership to make sure Virginians’ voices are heard.
Last week, I helped lead a group of freshmen members of Congress in pushing for key changes to the health care reform proposals currently in the House. In our letter, we urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to adopt proposals that we heard from our constituents. These include demanding deficit neutrality, opening up interstate competition and portability for insurance, addressing tort reform, and ensuring all Americans have access to a “congressional option” similar to what I am offered.
Here are the seven specific principles outlined in our letter that we are asking congressional leaders to include as part of meaningful health-care reform:
1. Protect Medicare and extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund, including closure of the prescription drug “doughnut hole” in Medicare Part D, and empowering Medicare to negotiate cheaper drug prices;
2. 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;
3. 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;”
4. Address tort costs by reducing litigation, medical error, and overutilization, proposing real reforms such as “Certificate of Merit” provisions and “Early Offer” programs;
5. Allow every American the opportunity to choose the same quality health care that members of Congress enjoy, or what I call “the congressional option;”
6. Incentivize wellness and preventive care and encourage personal responsibility for living healthier lifestyles; and
7. Protect small businesses and allow them to calculate for themselves how health care reform would impact their bottom line. Previously, other freshmen and I had pushed successfully to expand protections of S-corporations and other small businesses from proposed surcharges associated with the broader plan.
I and many other members of the freshman class 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, like health-care reform. Coupled with that willingness, however, is a commitment to searching out the best ideas from our constituents and from across the political spectrum. I will continue pushing for the proposals above, along with others gathered from my listening tours, because I want to support a bill that will ensure every American can have access to a doctor they can afford.
Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may call 888.4.TOM4US (888.486.6487); write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; or visit www.perriello.house.gov to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter.
Tom Perriello represents the Fifth District in the United States House of Representatives.