понедельник, 17 сентября 2012 г.

SENS. COLLINS, LANDRIEU START NEW YEAR WORKING TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE COVERAGE - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

The office of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., issued the following press release:

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) today introduced legislation that would expand access to affordable health care to millions of Americans. The Access to Affordable Health Care Act includes seven goals: expanding access to affordable health care for small businesses; making health insurance more affordable for individuals and families purchasing coverage on their own; strengthening the health care safety net for those without coverage; expanding access to care in rural and underserved areas; increasing access to affordable long-term care; promoting healthier lifestyles; and providing more equitable Medicare payments to providers. The Collins-Landrieu bill is a comprehensive plan that builds on the strengths of our current public programs and private health care system.

'One of my top priorities in the Senate has been to expand access to affordable health care for all Americans. Maine is in the midst of a growing health insurance crisis, with insurance premiums rising at alarming rates,' Senator Collins said. 'This bill takes significant strides toward the goal of universal health care coverage by bringing millions more Americans into the insurance system, strengthening the health care safety net, and addressing inequities in the Medicare system.'

'Across the country, small business owners and families are struggling with the high cost of healthcare,' Senator Landrieu said. 'These comprehensive, real steps forward will open new doors of opportunity and access to affordable healthcare for millions of American families and business owners, and I am proud to have partnered with Senator Collins in this important pursuit.'

The Collins-Landrieu Access to Affordable Health Care Act includes important provisions to:

* Help small employers cope with rising health care costs by creating new tax credits for small businesses to make health insurance more affordable. Encourages small businesses that do not offer health insurance to do so and helping employers that do offer insurance to continue coverage. Provides grants to provide start-up funding to States to help businesses to form group purchasing cooperatives.

* Builds upon the success of the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by giving states the option of covering parents of children who are eligible for the program. Also shores up the looming shortfalls in State Child Health Insurance Program funding that 17 states - including Maine and Louisiana - will face in Fiscal Year 2007 to ensure that children currently enrolled in the program do not lose their coverage.

* Provides an advanceable, refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 for individuals earning up to $30,000 and up to $3,000 for families earning up to $60,000 to make health care coverage more affordable for low and middle income families who are not eligible for the expanded public programs.

* Strengthens our nation's health care safety net by doubling funding over five years for the Consolidated Health Centers program, which includes community, migrant, public housing and homeless health centers.

* Calls for increased funding for the National Health Service Corps, which supports doctors, dentists, and other clinicians who serve in rural and inner city areas.

* Provides a tax credit for long-term care expenses of up to $3,000 to provide help to families struggling to provide long-term care to a loved one. Encourages more Americans to plan for their future long-term care needs by providing a tax deduction to help them purchase long-term care insurance.

* Provides grants to States to assist small businesses wishing to establish 'worksite wellness' programs for their employees. Authorizes grants to support new and existing 'community partnerships' to promote healthy lifestyles among hospitals, employers, schools and community organizations. Provides funds for States to establish or expand comprehensive school health education.

* Promotes greater equity in Medicare payments and help to ensure that the Medicare system rewards rather than punishes states like Maine and Louisiana that deliver high-quality, cost-effective Medicare services to our elderly and disabled citizens.