July 16, 2009: MARKEY: BROKEN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS IN URGENT NEED OF REPAIR

Markey says health care system, ailing for years, now stuck in intensive care 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today delivered the following statement at the Committee’s mark-up of H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. This comprehensive health reform bill will reduce skyrocketing health care costs and improve access to high quality, affordable care for all Americans.

 

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Rep. Markey (center) participates in an Energy and Commerce Committee markup of H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act along with other members of the committee.

Read a summary of the bill here.

 

“Thank you, Chairman Waxman, for the leadership that you, Chairman Pallone and Chairman-Emeritus Dingell are providing to move forward the landmark health care reform legislation that our Committee is beginning to consider today.

 

Mr. Chairman, our broken-down health care system is in urgent need of repair. The United States ranks 1st in the world in health care spending, but 50th in life expectancy, behind Bosnia and Jordan.

 

Skyrocketing costs, which already consume about 16 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, are projected to more than double, reaching 37 percent of GDP by 2050, according to CBO.  This is unsustainable.

 

Mr. Chairman, today this Committee - under your leadership - is moving forward with critically needed legislation to repair our broken system while confronting runaway health care costs that have plagued our system for years.

 

While we are working to make the dramatic changes needed to strengthen the system for the future, there are those who are dusting off the same tired arguments of the past in an effort to thwart real reform. Our current system is clearly in need of major reform – it’s a convoluted mess that wastes money and leaves millions of Americans without insurance or inadequate insurance that fails to provide the coverage they need.

 

While our health care system has been ailing for decades, today it’s in the ICU.

 

Millions of Americans lack health insurance and millions more who are under-insured are saddled with policies that provide too little coverage at unaffordable premiums. The current system is unsustainable, and now is the time to reform it.

 

Our failing health care system needs “CPR” – Coverage, Prevention and Research.  This bill does just that.

 

We must expand coverage to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable care.

 

Next, we need to focus on PREVENTION. 

 

Today only 3-5% of our 2 trillion dollar health care budget is spent on prevention. Yet 71% of that budget is spent on treating people with diseases linked to preventable causes like smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity. We need to shift our system from a “sick care” system into a true health care system.

 

The “R” for RESEARCH was one of the first things we addressed this year by including $10.4 billion in the recovery bill for funding at the National Institutes of Health. But we must also invest in comparative effectiveness research, to help improve the quality of care and reduce costs.

 

With this bill, we have addressed Coverage, Prevention, Research, and more, and I believe that this bill will truly revitalize our nation’s health care system.

 

I plan introduce an amendment during this markup designed to improve the care for these vulnerable patients while also reducing costs. My amendment is based on the Independence at Home Act, a bi-partisan bill that I introduced earlier this year with Chris Smith along with the support of 4 members of this Committee, including Dr. Burgess.

 

My amendment creates a Medicare pilot program to provide home-based primary care services and care coordination to high-cost beneficiaries suffering from multiple chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and other similar debilitating diseases.

 

Beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions account for a disproportionate share of Medicare costs – specifically, Americans with 5 or more chronic conditions represent about 10 percent of the Medicare population but account for more than 60% of total Medicare costs, according to CMS. 

 

And on top of these astronomical costs, this population often receives substandard, uncoordinated care that produces conflicting diagnoses for the same symptoms and overuse of prescription medicines to the detriment of quality care.

 

I look forward to working with you and my colleagues as health care reform legislation moves forward.”

 

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