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Issues & Legislation
Health Care Priorities
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I'm working to help Washingtonians get the coverage they deserve and ensure that their care is of the highest quality at the lowest cost. The cost of health care has doubled in the last decade and, without health care reform, prices will double again in the next 10 years. These skyrocketing costs are dragging down American businesses, forcing 47 million Americans to go without coverage, and leaving countless additional families with outrageous bills and eroding benefits. I am committed to driving down these costs, while improving health care quality and expanding coverage to all Americans. Achieving these three critical goals will not be easy, but we can do it if we build on what works in our current system to fix what’s broken.
Improving Competition through a Public Option
Reforming Medicare Payments to Improve Quality
On June 15, 2009, I introduced the Medical Efficiency and Delivery Improvement of Care (MEDIC) Act (S. 1262) to help address this problem. My bill would shift the Medicare payment system to one that better rewards providers who offer efficient, high-quality health care. This will help fix Washington state's low Medicare reimbursement rates, making it easier for seniors to find new Medicare providers, while also helping to incentivize better health care practices nationwide. Because one out of every five dollars spent on health care in America comes from Medicare, improvements to this program affect the entire health care industry, helping to drive a better health care system for everyone.
Preserving Patient Access to Primary Care
On June 3, 2009, I introduced the Preserving Patient Access to Primary Care Act (S. 1174), which would help to ensure an adequate primary care workforce, especially in rural areas, and improve pay levels for primary care providers who offer integrated care coordination for their patients. Research has shown that patients get better health outcomes and have lower overall costs when they have a primary care provider that coordinates all their health care needs. This bill would help to offer more Americans the benefits of well-coordinated primary care.
Expanding Access to Home and Community Based Long-Term Care
I introduced two bills on June 11, 2009 that would help to achieve this goal. One bill, called the Home and Community Balanced Incentives Act (S. 1256), incentivizes states to develop successful home and community based long-term care programs under Medicaid. The second bill, called Project 2020 (S. 1257), helps give people the support they need to stay healthy at home before they ever end up on Medicaid. Currently, the average person lasts just six months in long-term care before going on Medicaid.