Visit from Hill highlights health care reform plan
August 19, 2009
Indiana Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill was in Harrison County recently to speak to senior citizens and health care providers about the need for health care reform and to gain approval for the reform plan, labeled America's Affordable Health Choices Act, supported by many moderate Democrats.
During the August recess, several members of Congress had planned to hold town-hall type meetings with constituents in their districts to discuss health care reform, but many have faced attacks from opponents of the plan who have disrupted the meetings, and one representative even received death threats. Many representatives weren't able to communicate with constituents and some have called off the meetings.
Hill held meetings in Corydon, one at Autumn Ridge Apartments, a Blue River Services facility, and one at Harrison County Hospital. The meetings weren't announced until that morning, giving organizers little time to plan and disrupt the meetings. But even if Hill is facing a difficult battle on the plan, his home state is a perfect example of why many believe reform is needed.
In a report released recently by Families USA, a health consumer organization, approximately 1.6 million Hoosiers — 29 percent of residents younger than 65 — were uninsured at some time during 2007-08, and 1.1 million of those uninsured Hoosiers — 70.5 percent of the total — were uninsured for six months or longer during that time.
According to the report, the situation in Indiana is a reflection of what is happening nationwide. Approx-imately 86.7 million Americans — one out of three people, or 33.1 percent, younger than 65 — were uninsured at some point during 2007-08. According to Census Bureau data, 45.7 million Americans were uninsured for the entire year in 2007. The number of uninsured persons in Harrison and Crawford counties was 13 and 17 percent, respectively, in 2006, according to the Census Bureau.
"The huge number of people without health coverage in Indiana is worse than an epidemic," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said in the report. "At this point, almost everyone in the country has had a family member, neighbor or friend who was uninsured, and that's why meaningful health care reform can no longer be kept on the back burner."
Hill, who laid out several key points in the reform plan at the meetings in Corydon, was welcomed by the group of senior citizens and only one seemed to disagree with the plan, but had no specific problem with it that he could address.
"I'm not a Democrat or a Republican," the man said. "I consider myself a political atheist. But from what I've heard about the plan on TV, there's a lot about it that I disagree with."
"What part do you not like?" Hill asked.
"Well, just some of the stuff they have been talking about on TV," the man responded.
"OK, and what was that?" Hill asked.
But the person couldn't come up with an example of what he disagreed with. Hill then told the group that the reform plan will not change anything for those on Medicare and that the "Donut Hole" in the Medicare Part D plan will no longer exist.
"The AMA (American Medical Association) has endorsed this plan," Hill said. "You'll have choices, regardless of what the detractors tell you. They are lying. That's a strong word, but it's true.
"This country has been talking about health care reform since Harry Truman was president, but it hits a wall every time. It's time to do this."
Hill also said that with the new reform plan, there would be no pre-existing condition clause.
"If you're sick now, you can still get on this plan," Hill said. "If you change jobs, you can take the same coverage with you. If you can't afford coverage, you'll be eligible for a subsidy to help pay for it. Small businesses will be given a 50-percent tax credit if they supply health insurance to their employers."
Hill said the plan can help lower the uninsured numbers in Indiana where:
•More than three-quarters of the state's uninsured, or 77.4 percent, were in working families, working full or part time.
•More than half of those individuals and families with incomes below twice the poverty level ($42,500 of annual income for a family of four) went without health insurance at some point in 2007-08.
"These startling numbers clearly document the seriousness of the problem and demonstrate what happens when a problem is ignored for too long," Pollack said. "It's important to note, however, that Congress and the president have already begun to address this issue by extending coverage to more than four million uninsured kids.
"The actions of Congress and the president were an important down payment on comprehensive health care reform, and they offer the promise that all Americans will one day have access to high-quality, affordable health care."