Key members of Congress say they hope to pass health care reform this summer as surveys show Americans are skipping medicines and other treatments to save money.
Key committee chairs in the House of Representatives and Senate are pledging to keep health care reform on the forefront of their legislative agenda and expect legislation to be brought to the floor in both chambers this summer.
Reps Henry Waxman (D, CA), Charles Rangel (D, NY), and George Miller (D, CA), who chair the 3 committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation in the House, have written to President Barack Obama to affirm their intentions to work closely with each other and the administration to pass comprehensive health reform this year.
Sen Max Baucus (D, MT), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, also is on board for swift action. “To get our economy moving again, to help people get healthier, we must have good, commonsense health care reform,” he said. “I’m going to keep pushing and pushing because we have to get this done.” The ranking Republican member of the committee, Sen Charles Grassley (R, IA), wants to see action this year as well and notes that committee members have agreed to a timeframe for working on a bipartisan bill that could be presented to the full Senate in July.
A bipartisan core group of members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, under the chairmanship of Sen Edward Kennedy (D, MA), also is working to craft a bill in time for early summer.
The momentum for a health care overhaul may be buoyed by troubling survey findings, reported by Consumer Reports, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and others, which consistently show that Americans—especially those with a chronic condition like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes—are cutting back on their medical care. Findings released last week of a nationwide NCOA survey of 1000 Americans with a chronic illness found that in the past year, 1 in 4 respondents have delayed health care or not filled much-needed prescriptions due to cost.
These findings are in line with those by Consumer Reports; its recent survey found 28% of Americans had taken potentially dangerous actions to save money, such as not filling prescriptions, skipping dosages, and cutting pills in half without the approval of their doctor.
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