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Mikulski Announces Affordable Health Choices Act in Historic Vote

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Senator Barbara A. Mikulski made announcement on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s passage of The Affordable Health Choices Act. This landmark legislation will reduce health costs, protect individuals’ choice in doctors and plans, shift the paradigm of the health care delivery system, and assure quality and affordable health care for Americans. Senator Mikulski is a senior member of the HELP Committee and chairwoman of the HELP workgroup on quality. She authored the bill’s section on quality.

The legislation builds on the existing employer-based system and strengthens it. If an individual likes the health insurance he or she has, they get to keep it. The bill provides better choices for those with no coverage and provides an affordable, basic plan for young adults and gives small businesses better options to provide high value health coverage. 

Under the insurance reforms in The Affordable Health Choices Act, no American can be denied health coverage because of a preexisting medical condition, be discriminated against based on their age or gender, or have that coverage fail to help them when they need it most. Everyone will be guaranteed a minimum set of essential benefits. No American will be subject to annual or lifetime limits on their coverage, or see it terminated arbitrarily to avoid paying claims.
 
The bill reduces health care costs through stronger prevention and health promotion, better quality of care and best use of information technology. It also roots out fraud and abuse, reduces unnecessary procedures, strengthens the health workforce, and creates a system that makes it possible for everyone to gain access to health care providers, medication and procedures essential for prevention and disease management. This helps avoid what we can have now – costs being driven up by nearly 50 million uninsured Americans seeking eleventh-hour treatment in emergency rooms.

The bill also includes a strong public option that responds to the wishes of the American people to have a clear alternative to for-profit insurance companies. The public option will be available through the American Health Benefit Gateway, a new way for individuals and small employers to find and purchase quality and affordable health insurance in every state. 

Senator Mikulski’s statement about this landmark legislation follows:

“This is an historic moment. Today we took a giant step forward in providing health care coverage that is available, undeniable and affordable. Health care that is accessible to all without any discrimination on the basis of a previous condition or gender. It means that if you lose your job, your children will not lose their health care. If you have an autistic child, you will be able to have the doctor that you need when you need it, and no one can deny that care.

“We make it affordable by focusing on new thinking – shifting from a sick care system to one that emphasizes wellness, prevention and quality. Through our quality initiatives, whether it’s preventing medical errors, ending needless hospital readmissions or providing better management of chronic disease, we can save over $500 billion dollars.

“We also guarantee that if you like what you’ve got, you’ll get to keep it. And if you need something new, you can go to the gateway to find something that is affordable and personalized to your family.

“We stand here today on the side of the American people in advancing health care reform.

“We stand on the side of Amer

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