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AUSTIN, TX (November 7) - Today, following the historic House passage of health reform legislation, Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) praised members of the Texas Delegation for their votes for the bill.
"The pressure on all members of the House from well-funded, anti-reform lobbies was enormous, but some members of the Texas Delegation chose to do what was right for communities here in Texas," stated Melissa Cubria, TexPIRG's Advocate.
As a consumer and good-government group, TexPIRG has been critical in fighting the influence of powerful interests in Washington, and has decried the insurance industry's $1.4 million a day lobbying campaign against health reform. TexPIRG endorsed the bill, H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, in a letter to Speaker Pelosi on Friday.
Melissa Cubria expects continued efforts to kill or delay reform in the Senate, but, she says, "Residents of Texas have waited too long for relief from constantly rising health care costs. The U.S. Senate must quickly follow the House's lead and pass health reform that increases choice and competition and reins in costs."
Senate consideration of its health reform legislation has yet to begin and could last several weeks.
TexPIRG singled out several key provisions of the House bill for praise:
- Bans on the most egregious insurance industry practices: pre-existing condition denials, lifetime or yearly caps on benefits, price discrimination based on health history, and rescission of coverage based on small enrollment form errors once you get sick.
- A strong, national Health Insurance Exchange which allows small businesses and individuals without affordable employer-based coverage to pool their bargaining power and negotiate better deals with insurers.
- A public health insurance plan option, competing on a level playing field with private coverage plans in the exchange. This public option would generate much needed choice and competition, leading to lower costs for consumers, small businesses, and the nation.
- An Institute of Medicine study on care quality and value that will propose provider payment approaches that encourage better care at lower cost. These recommendations will be automatically go into effect in 2013 unless a law is passed to stop their implementation.
- Research into which treatments work best, so that consumers and their providers can be armed with the latest science when making decisions about care.
- New incentives for primary and preventive care, keeping Americans healthy and away from expensive unneeded emergency room visits.
- Health information IT and simplified administration to reduce administrative costs.
- The elimination of costly drug and insurance industry subsidies, by allowing the government to purchase low-income seniors' prescription drugs at lower Medicaid prices and cutting subsidies to private insurers, currently paid by Medicare.
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