The cost of health care and insurance has continued to grow significantly year after year. Many Americans are struggling to keep up, while others are simply unable to afford coverage. The rising cost of health care poses one of the greatest challenges to the fiscal health of the nation.
Rep. Petri believes that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. In order to achieve this goal, Rep. Petri strongly believes that Congress must institute reforms that will address the rising cost of health care. Instead of getting everybody into the old, dysfunctional system and then figuring out how to pay for it, we should reform the current delivery system by emphasizing advances in efficiency so that more people will be able to afford their health care, and the government will be better able to take care of the rest.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Health Care Bill of 2010)
Rep. Petri voted against the health care reform bill of 2010 because it takes the U.S. in the entirely wrong direction. He supports health care reform which ensures that all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, have access to affordable coverage. However, he believes the health care law is flawed in its approach to achieving that goal and will only make worse our skyrocketing health care costs and federal deficits. A recent study by the Society of Actuaries found that the changes made by the law could drive up claims costs in the individual market by an average of 32 percent nationally.
He is also very concerned about the law's negative effects on job creation. Rep. Petri has met with hundreds of employers in the 6th District and hears constantly how the mandates and uncertainty created by the law are discouraging hiring. A report issued by the investment research firm UBS said that the health care law was "arguably the biggest impediment to hiring.” For these reasons, he has voted in favor of repealing the law and have also been supportive of efforts to defund the implementation of the law.
Rep. Petri believes we need the right reforms to eliminate waste throughout the system and reward high quality, low-cost care. We should be choosing approaches which give consumers incentives to use their health care dollars wisely. Instead, we are going in the opposite direction by turning significant control over to the government.
Rep. Petri believes we should give consumers, rather than government bureaucrats or insurance companies, more responsibility for decisions regarding their health care. The health care bill of 2010 gives the government unprecedented authority over the regulation of health insurance. It does nothing to incentivize consumer driven health plans which encourage individuals to take care of themselves, save for future medical expenses and comparison shop to find the best health care at the most reasonable cost. Most importantly, consumer driven plans put into motion the incentive structure throughout the health care delivery system that will slow the rising cost of health care.
Rep. Petri will monitor the implementation of the new health care law and work with his colleagues to repeal the many destructive provisions of the law and replace them with legislative proposals that seek to reform the health care delivery system in order to lower health care costs and increase access to quality care--without adding to our nation's deficit.
Other Health Care Initiatives
Rep. Petri is not convinced that there is any magic bullet solution, but he has supported a number of initiatives that together will help reduce the costs of health care and reduce the number of uninsured:
- Rep. Petri supported the creation and reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which, through the BadgerCare program, provides health insurance to many lower-income Wisconsin families.
- Rep. Petri has also cosponsored legislation that will make it easier for Americans to purchase less expensive prescription drugs from Canada.
- Rep. Petri has worked with the entire Wisconsin Congressional delegation to preserve the SeniorCare program, which provides comprehensive drug coverage to over 90,000 seniors in the state.
- Rep. Petri has cosponsored various bills aimed at creating greater competition in the insurance market which will help lower costs for many families and small businesses in Wisconsin.
- Because almost half of the uninsured people in America work for small businesses or are family members of employees who work for small businesses, Rep. Petri has supported legislation that would allow small businesses to purchase health insurance through their trade and industry associations to make health insurance more affordable.
- Rep. Petri has also cosponsored the Equity for our Nation's Self-Employed Act which would help self-employed individuals across the country afford quality health coverage by eliminating the 15.3 percent tax on health insurance premiums that only self-employed individuals face. This would reduce the average cost of health care for these individuals by more than $1,700 annually.
- Rep. Petri has cosponsored legislation to improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system.
- Rep. Petri cosponsored legislation, working with Rep. Blumenauer from Oregon, to improve the coordination of care for Medicare beneficiaries, both to improve quality and reduce costs to taxpayers.
- Rep. Petri has worked with doctors and hospitals in Wisconsin to help make data about the quality of health care available through the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO) database.
Rep. Petri believes that medical technology, such as electronic health records, and a greater emphasis on preventative care will help us make great strides in improving the quality of health care and reducing costs. Reforms that make health care costs more transparent and give consumers more control over their health care decisions could also lower costs and enhance efficiency.