“Mr. Dingell’s work on the Patients Bill of Rights, health insurance industry oversight and increasing access to care throughout his district demonstrates a rare commitment to preserving physician autonomy and improving public health.” - Jack Lewin, M.D., CEO of the American College of Cardiology
Congressman Dingell is the leader among House Members in assuring quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans.
The Congressman believes health insurance is a right for all Americans, and for this reason Congressman Dingell has introduced health care reform legislation in every Congress since he was elected in 1955. As the author of the Patients’ Bill of Rights, he has led the fight against big insurance companies, HMOs and other managed care plans, so doctors, not insurance company bean counters, make medical decisions. He also led the effort to prevent President Bush’s proposed health care cuts in veteran programs.
In 2009 Congressman Dingell introduced H.R. 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act. The House passed Dingell’s bill later that year, and in early 2010 President Obama signed into law sweeping health insurance reform. It is in large part thanks to Congressman Dingell that now every American has access to quality, affordable heath care.
Healthcare for Women and Children
Congressman Dingell has also worked aggressively to improve health care for women and children. Congressman Dingell co-authored laws that have provided thousands of Michigan children with health insurance under the Children’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and banned so-called drive-through deliveries for child-birth and reduced the gender gap in health research. In addition to his work on the Mammography Quality Standards Act, he was also influential in passing the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act of 2000 and the Native American Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Technical Amendment Act of 2001. In 2007, Congressman Dingell and Senator Clinton introduced legislation to reauthorize and expand the CHIP program. It passed Congress but without a two thirds majority to override Bush’s veto.
Conversely, President Obama made children’s health care a top priority. One month after he entered office he signed CHIP expansion into law. As an original sponsor and champion of the bill, Congressman Dingell was extremely happy to finally see health care coverage expanded to an additional 71,000 Michigan children.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
On November 19, 2009 the House passed H.R. 3961, The Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act. Sponsored by Congressman Dingell, the bill permanently fixes a Bush-era budgetary gimmick that artificially reduced the deficit based on unrealistic assumptions of future physicians’ fee cuts. H.R. 3961 restores fiscal responsibility to the Medicare program while ensuring that seniors and veterans have dependable, quality coverage.
Whereas Bush-era policies provided a massive handout of taxpayer dollars to insurance and pharmaceutical companies and created headaches and heartaches for consumers, the 2010 health insurance reform law makes available free preventative care under Medicare, and offers assistance for early retirees.
An Economic and Social Crisis – Averted
Despite Congressman Dingell’s and the Democrats best efforts, the health care crisis has worsened under President Bush and the previous Republican Congress. One of Michigan’s largest employers, General Motors, says its health costs are around $1,200 per vehicle, or in other words, more than the cost of steel per car. Were it not for the health insurance reform law, our nation was headed towards a reality where our health care system cost a quarter of U.S. GDP by 2025, and over half of our nation’s total spending by 2082. The health insurance reform law was not only morally imperative, it is vital to the long term strength and prosperity of our nation.
Congressman Dingell continues to focus on improving the law to further increase efficiency and lower the cost of health care for employers and employees and ensure all Americans have affordable, comprehensive coverage.