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Kaptur's letter to constituents on health care

Dear Constituent:

Thank you for sharing your views about health insurance reform. I appreciate that you took the time to express your thoughts on this vital issue. Regardless of whether we agree on all the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I will always be honest with you and you will always know where I stand. I hope that even when we don't see eye to eye on an issue, we can agree that our nation is capable of great achievements when we work together.

I hear regularly from hundreds of citizens with serious concerns about their health care. My vote was based in the belief that any reform must require Members of Congress to get their healthcare coverage from the same plans as millions of Americans, and that such coverage not be denied based on pre-existing conditions, or cut when an individual or family member gets sick. My vote was also in response to many stories that have been shared with me from across our community. One small business owner had to file for bankruptcy because he could not afford coverage for himself or his employees and then suffered a heart attack. A young couple, who were denied coverage after a high risk pregnancy and problematic birth, found themselves with an enormous bill and a new baby in need of serious care but no hope of health insurance. And the parents of a little girl, diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as a toddler, paying all her health expenses out of pocket because they are unable to obtain health insurance even though they could afford it.

As insurance costs rose, almost one in three Americans went without health insurance for some period last year. Meanwhile, insurance companies rack up staggering profits. Without reform, the marketplace for health insurance would remain unstable and unreliable. Thousands more of our fellow citizens would lose their coverage. Even people with insurance, no matter how expensive or comprehensive it might be, could not be guaranteed continued coverage or quality care. Millions of hard-working Americans would be denied coverage, charged an impossibly higher rate, or discriminated against due to a pre-existing condition. The cost of employer-sponsored health insurance, which more than doubled over the last decade, would continue to climb. Without reform, the average annual cost of coverage for a family would increase to $23,842 by 2020.

What's in it for me?
-Rural Americans
-Small Businesses
Small businesses will be one of the biggest benefactors of this law. Under the new health care law, an estimated 12,400 small businesses in our region will receive tax benefits to help them afford coverage, finally putting them on level footing with overseas competitors. Starting immediately, businesses with 25 or fewer employees and average annual wages less than $50,000 will receive a 35% tax break on the cost of premiums. This will increase to 50% by 2014, with full credit available to businesses with fewer than 10 employees and $25,000 average wages. Just in our area, 102,000 people will benefit from improvements to Medicare, which includes keeping the Hospital Insurance Fund whole for another decade and finally closing the "donut hole" in prescription drug coverage. More than 26,000 of our uninsured neighbors will have access to coverage, 8,700 with pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain coverage, and 49,000 young adults will be able to remain on their parents' plans through age 26. The bill makes these improvements without adding to the deficit. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office ranked the bill as the largest deficit reducing measure enacted at the federal level since the 1990s.

I have listened closely to the concerns of citizens in our district. There is passion on both sides. Some claim this legislation is unconstitutional; I respectfully disagree. To accept that argument is to say that the No Child Left Behind law, Social Security, and Medicare are unconstitutional, not to mention veterans' benefits or the interstate highway system. Such an argument does not reflect the advances our society has made.

Affordable health insurance reform is necessary to:

Give citizens a choice of affordable private plans
Stop the deplorable practice of denials based on pre-existing conditions, including the treatment of pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, and the use of secret life-time limits on coverage when you really need it
Cut the costs of doing business and allow businesses to compete on even footing with their overseas competition
Reduce the deficit and the share of government expenditures
Help our companies to be more competitive in the world market
Unleash the entrepreneurial talents of the American people
Give peace of mind to the middle class and our seniors so that what they have worked for will not be taken away if they get sick
Importantly, after long debate and steadfast effort, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also ensures that no federal funds will be used for abortions, just as current law provides—something many constituents expressed concern about. I am pleased to have been able to assist in securing that protection. The executive order signed by the president adds another layer of protection to the language already in the bill. Make no mistake: executive orders carry the force of law. For proof, just look to the executive order issued by President George W. Bush in August 2001 that prevented the expansion of embryonic stem cell lines that would be available for research.

With the mounting economic strain on American families and the rising costs of health insurance to workers, businesses and federal budget, the status quo has proven itself unsustainable, fiscally irresponsible and morally unacceptable. The time has come for this historic change. Thank you again for the time you took to be in touch with me on this issue of importance to so many in our region. Of course if you have any question or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me again.