Press Release

Cuellar Votes Yes to Health Care Reform, Will Deliver Coverage and Drive Down Premiums

Big Benefits for Texas as Most Uninsured State in the Nation, Reduces Nation's Deficit by $1.5 Trillion Over Next Two Decades

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Washington, March 21, 2010 | Ashley Patterson ((202) 225-1640) | comments
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today voted in support of the landmark health care reform plan, H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill will expand coverage to 5.9 million uninsured Texans, including 1.4 million children and 202,500 uninsured individuals in the 28th Congressional District. The legislation also makes unprecedented investments in Medicare, provides affordability credits for small businesses and bars insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions or illnesses.
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Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today voted in support of the landmark health care reform plan, H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill will expand coverage to 5.9 million uninsured Texans, including 1.4 million children and 202,500 uninsured individuals in the 28th Congressional District. The legislation also makes unprecedented investments in Medicare, provides affordability credits for small businesses and bars insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions or illnesses.

“This is a pivotal moment for the nation and for Texas,” said Congressman Cuellar. “These common sense reforms will protect Americans who have coverage and deliver coverage to those who don’t. Quality, affordable health care will be accessible to all Americans and these landmark insurance reforms will sustain the quality of America’s health care for the future.”

The historic health care legislation passed the House late Sunday. The plan will provide health insurance to an additional 32 million individuals, while ensuring 95% of all Americans have coverage. By creating state-based health insurance exchanges, small business workers and millions of low to middle income Americans will be able to choose from a variety of different health insurance plans beginning in 2014. These individuals will also qualify for affordability credits and health subsidies to afford the coverage.

Under the plan, over a dozen key provisions will immediately take effect in 2010, including small business tax credits for employers who offer coverage to 25 or fewer employees, $250 rebate checks to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole”, free preventive care for seniors enrolled in Medicare, 50 percent discounts on prescription drugs under Medicare, eligibility extensions for children up to the age of 26 to stay enrolled in their parents health care plans, bans on insurance practices that cap annual and lifetime coverage, bans on dropped coverage for patient illness, and immediate investments in community health centers across the nation, including 27 clinics in the 28th Congressional District.

“These are immediate reforms that will improve health care for my constituents,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Over 298,000 of my constituents who have coverage will immediately be protected from discriminatory insurance practices like unfair premium hikes and insurance caps on annual coverage. These are common sense reforms that make good sense for the country.”

By making historic investments in the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its solvency from 2017 to 2026, over 94,000 seniors in Congressman Cuellar’s district will immediately gain access to free preventive and wellness care. Beginning this year, the reforms will start closing the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole” and this will help 5,800 seniors in the 28th District who have been forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs under Medicare.

Beginning this year, the legislation will allow young adults to remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Over 68,000 young adults in the 28th District would qualify for this option. For individuals under 30, this bill creates new inexpensive policies that allow them to obtain protection from catastrophic health care costs.

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will qualify to participate in the new health insurance exchanges that allow small business to band together to get lower rates. Over 14,200 small businesses in Congressman Cuellar’s district will qualify for these exchanges and employers with 25 or fewer employees will earn tax credits if they provide insurance for their workers. There is no mandate in the health care reform plan requiring small businesses to provide their employees coverage.

“Small businesses need a leg up in these hard economic times,” said Congressman Cuellar, a former small business owner. “Increasingly in Texas, small businesses are getting priced out of the system. This plan will give them more buying power by allowing them to band together with other small businesses in the state health insurance exchange.”

Congressman Cuellar’s district is the third most uninsured in Texas and the tenth most uninsured of 435 congressional districts in the country. One of every three constituents does not have health care coverage and this legislation would help more than 202,500 individuals in his district gain access to care. By getting coverage to these individuals, hospitals in Congressman Cuellar’s district can reduce the cost of uncompensated care by $26 million.

In addition, the 27 community health centers in the 28th District will receive $35 million in new assistance under the plan as part of a nationwide effort to expand primary care. Some estimates show that Texas could gain $120 billion in federal funding through an expansion in Medicaid, investments in the medical workforce and training, and federal cost-sharing assistance for expanded coverage.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this health care plan is fully-paid for by cost-saving investments. CBO estimates that this legislation will reduce the national deficit by $1.5 trillion in the next two decades. As a member of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Congressman Cuellar strongly supports the deficit-reducing provisions of the bill.

“This was a vote for my district, my constituents, their families, seniors and small businesses,” said Congressman Cuellar. “At the end of the day, you must put aside politics and vote for your district. The health care needs in my district justify the good reforms in this plan. This is an historic turning point for our country, for Texas and for the health care needs of my constituents.”

To view a list of the legislation’s supporters, please visit: 
http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/reports?id=0323
 
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Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition.