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Begich Debunks Health Care “Rationing” Myth

Freshmen speeches focused on myth-busting this week

The idea that health care will be rationed under health insurance reform is a myth and a scare tactic that belongs in the soup lines of the Great Depression. That was the message from U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today who joined his freshmen Democratic colleagues in their weekly Senate floor speeches on the importance of reforming the broken health insurance system.

This week's speeches focused on the need to debunk the myths spread by opponents of health insurance reform.

"Is there anything more cynical than that? Telling Americans that their health care will be rationed because of reform?" Begich asked in his speech. "That they'll get less care when Congress and the President finally take action. The defenders of the status quo ought to be embarrassed. They know the opposite is true. More Americans will have access to more care when reforms are finally adopted."

Begich said rationing is not a roadblock waiting down the road, but rather for the vast majority of Americans it's happening right now. He cited Census Bureau statistics that showed at the beginning of the year 123,000 Alaskans were uninsured. And by last month, that number had risen to 133,000 - 10,000 more Alaskans "rationed" out of their coverage.

"In Alaska and in every state, people are losing their coverage for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they can no longer pay the skyrocketing premiums, or maybe their employers can no longer afford coverage," Begich said. "Or they are rationed out of the system because they have to switch jobs, then when they apply for new insurance they are disqualified because of a pre-existing condition."

Begich said other causes of the 14,000 Americans who lose insurance everyday are the annual insurance company caps being so low that people get sick and hit the limit early; and, even more outrageous, where insurance companies revoke coverage through a practice called rescission - revoking coverage for a variety of reasons insurance companies come up with.

A report by the House Ways and Means Committee says insurance companies saved themselves $300 million over five years through the practice of rescission.

"Let's put the word "rationing" into its proper context," Begich said. "It's the status quo and the insurance industry is making lots of money because of it."

Begich said with reform, Americans will see significant improvements in the health insurance system including:
  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions;
  • Stopping insurance companies from setting low annual or lifetime caps and refusing to pay for care after that;
  • Americans will have more choices by creating health insurance exchanges;
  • Insurance companies and Medicare will be required to pay for more preventive care so people can get regular checkups and screenings.
"The truth is health insurance reform will give Americans more. More people will have more access to more health care," Begich said.

Sen. Begich's speech is available on his YouTube page.

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