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Sen. Begich Statement on Passage of Health Reform Bill

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on Dec. 24 issued the following statement after Senate passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

"I voted in favor of the Senate health insurance reform bill because I believe the status quo is unacceptable. The vast majority of the reforms in the Senate bill are good policies that, if given a chance, will improve the lives of Alaskans.

"This legislation ends discrimination for pre-existing conditions; ends discrimination based on gender; makes it illegal for insurance companies to drop your coverage if you get sick; extends the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by an additional 10 years while cutting waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare; makes prescription drugs more affordable; requires insurance companies to pay for preventive care; and much more.

"Alaskans who have health insurance now, and are happy with it, can keep it. While the thousands of Alaskans who do not have health insurance, or have insurance they can't really afford, will have access to an insurance exchange offering affordable health insurance choices. An estimated 52,000 Alaskans will quality for tax credits to help purchase affordable health coverage.

"Health insurance costs for Alaska families increased five times faster than wages during the past decade. If we do nothing, those costs will double again in a few years to about $24,000 - that's 40 percent of the average family budget. The cost of doing nothing is just too high.

"The Congressional Budget Office projects the overall legislation will cut the deficit by $132 billion during the first decade of enactment and more than $1 trillion in the second. Cost containment means savings for Medicare, Medicaid, the Indian Health Service and veterans care, which really means savings to taxpayers.

"I look forward to working with the House to strengthen even further a final bill that will reduce costs, strengthen Medicare, and save lives."

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