Iowa delegate splits, 3-2, on health care reform bill

Iowa’s five congressmen voted along party lines this weekend on the health care reform plan debated in the U.S. House Saturday, with the three Democrats (Bruce Braley of Waterloo; Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon & Leonard Boswell of Des Moines) voting yes and the two Republicans (Tom Latham of Ames & Steve King of Kiron) voting no.

If you were watching on C-SPAN tonight, Congressman Braley was part of the closing dust-up over the bill.  Braley was shouted down by Republicans and it took a few minutes to restore order.  (Technical ruling:  people watching from the gallery in the US House are not to clap, yell, or disrupt the proceedings but the members of the House are free to do so.)

Statements from most of the Iowa delegation below:

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Leonard Boswell voted for and the House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act in a major step forward toward repairing the country’s health care system for all Iowans – families, children, young adults and seniors alike.

“Today, I voted for the most transformative piece of legislation that I have considered during my 13 years in Congress,” Boswell said.

“I voted to grant access to health care coverage for 18,000 uninsured constituents in my district and to make it more affordable for another 440,000 insured.”
“I voted to guarantee that 6,400 of my constituents with pre-existing conditions could never be denied coverage and to reduce insurance costs for 14,800 small businesses.”

“I voted to finally address how Iowa’s hospitals and providers are reimbursed for the care they provide.”
Under this legislation, the government will not force individuals and families with employer-based coverage to give up their insurance plans. However, as a result of the insurance reforms in this bill, they will no longer be required to pay co-pays or deductibles for preventive care; no more rate increases or coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, gender, or occupation; and guaranteed oral, vision, and hearing benefits for children. The public option offered in the health insurance exchange would drive down costs across the board by fostering competition and expanding insurance choices.

Those who do not receive coverage through their employer would be eligible to purchase coverage at affordable, group rates through a health insurance exchange. Individuals and families who meet poverty thresholds would receive affordability credits to help cover the cost of coverage. This legislation will also put caps on annual out-of-pocket costs at $5,000 for singles and $10,000 for families.

Congressman Boswell worked closely with his fellow Congressmen from Iowa, Reps. David Loebsack and Bruce Braley, to negotiate a compromise that added language to this bill to change Medicare to a quality-based payment system in two years.  Specifically, this legislation (1) requires Medicare to conduct a two-year study on a value-based system, and (2) at the end of the two year study period, Medicare would switch to a quality-based system unless Congress specifically cast a vote to disallow that change.

“Iowa’s hospitals and providers have shouldered the burden of unfair Medicare reimbursements for the high-quality care they provide for too long,” Boswell said. “This bill would require studies on the reimbursement formula and move toward a payment system based on quality, not quantity. Providers who participate in the public option would be reimbursed through negotiated rates that balance what private insurance companies pay for services with the current Medicare rates.”

The House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act by a vote of 220 to 215.

WASHINGTON, DC – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham issued the following statement following the approval by the U.S. House of Representatives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s $1.2 trillion health care legislation:

“There’s no question that health care costs too much in this country, but we can solve that problem without a $1.2 trillion government takeover of our health care system. The bill approved by the House of Representatives today will raise costs for a wide range of Iowans, smother job growth with costly mandates for small businesses and slash $500 billion from Medicare.

The bill requires the Institute of Medicine to determine future Medicare reimbursement rates, but that arrangement lacks any guarantee that Iowa’s reimbursement rates, which are among the lowest in the country, will see any kind of improvement. However, the bill contains a provision that specifically raises Medicare reimbursement rates in 14 counties in California, which is the home state of Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the bill’s main authors.

I’ve proposed a number of common-sense reforms to rein in health care costs.  For instance, we can crack down on frivolous malpractice lawsuits and allow small businesses to pool together across state lines to negotiate for lower premiums.  I stand with the American people in their demand for health care reform that reduces costs, but a government takeover of health care is not the answer.”

Washington, DC – Exactly three years after he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) voted today to pass the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  The legislation passed the House by a vote of 2XX-XX.  Following the vote, Braley issued the following statement:

“As a member of the House Subcommittee on Health, I’ve had a front-row seat as health-care legislation has moved through the House this year. After reading the bill, listening to my constituents and debating the bill’s provisions in Congress, I’m convinced this legislation is good for Iowa.

“One of my biggest priorities has been fighting to fix unfair and inefficient geographic differences, and reform the Medicare system to one that pays Iowa’s medical professionals for the high-quality, low-cost health care they currently provide. Just yesterday this week, the American Medical Association released a study confirming these differences are not based on the actual cost of medical services provided.  I’m proud to say that the House bill will finally fix these inequities, move us to a better reimbursement model that emphasizes quality over quantity, and help recruit well-qualified health-care providers to Iowa – all because of changes I championed.

“In the 1st District alone, this legislation will improve Medicare for 102,000 beneficiaries, strengthen employer-based coverage for 394,000 residents and reduce the cost of uncompensated care for medical providers by $99 million.

“The Affordable Health Care for America Act will decrease health insurance costs, expand access to quality, affordable health care, improve reimbursements for Iowa medical providers and allow Americans to maintain their choice of health insurance. The Affordable Health Care for America Act is good for Iowa’s families, seniors and medical providers, and that’s why I voted for the bill on the House floor.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Steve King made the following statement after liberals in the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962, the Pelosi health care bill.

“The American people reject the Pelosi plan. They do not support putting bureaucrats between patients and doctors, funding illegal aliens, raising taxes on small business owners and making millions of Americans reliant on the government for health services that should be personal and private. The American people must continue to rise up, speak out and kill this bill as it heads to the Senate.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.