Dear Mr. Varnell,
Thank you for contacting me about recent reforms to our . I appreciate hearing from you on such an important issue and I hope you will continue to share your opinions with me.
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) into law. I voted in favor of the bill because it begins the movement towards containing health care costs, and uses private sector innovation and competition to improve the quality and value of care. The law has already put in place important consumer protections, increased coverage, and lowered out-of-pocket costs for thousands of Americans. Provisions now in effect include prohibiting insurance companies from denying children coverage based on pre-existing conditions, requiring plans to cover free preventive services, allowing dependents to remain on their parent's plan until age 26, helping seniors pay for their prescription drugs when they enter the Medicare drug coverage gap and giving tax credits to small businesses to help them provide insurance benefits to their employees. The law is also estimated to reduce the deficit by more than a trillion dollars over the next 20 years. This figure comes from the independent, (CBO), the official cost referee for all legislation that moves through Congress.
Recently the passed a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Similar legislation came up in the Senate and failed to get enough votes to proceed. I am against repealing the law; doing so would add an estimated $230 billion to the deficit over the next ten years, as well as take away the many benefits Americans are already enjoying, reinstate unfair insurance practices and reverse delivery system reforms that are critical to increasing quality and lowering costs. The law is not perfect, nor is it the final say in efforts to ensure that we have a quality, affordable health care system that works for American families and businesses. A change this big takes time to implement. Instead of repealing it, we should work together to fix what's wrong, improve the things that could be better, and give it a chance to work.
Our focus must now be on ensuring effective implementation of this new law. The passage of historic, comprehensive health care reform is merely the starting point for providing appropriate health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and slowing the growth of health care costs. As Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee's bipartisan Task Force on Government Performance, I have reached out to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that there are performance metrics and milestones in place to track our progress and effectively measure improvements to our delivery system. As we implement reform, it will be critical to develop common definitions and metrics along with timelines to monitor results.
To best follow implementation efforts, and to answer questions you might have about how certain provisions may affect you, I encourage you to visit , the ' (HHS) central portal for information about moving forward. Through this website you can explore insurance and pricing options, learn how to qualify and apply for new insurance programs, find health facilities and specific services in your area, and compare various health services to ensure you're receiving the best quality care.
Should you have additional questions about health reform, I would encourage you to visit my website, , or the Kaiser Foundation's website, , for more information. Specific questions about your particular health insurance, or how the implementation of certain health reform provisions may affect your policy, should be directed to your health insurance provider.
Thanks again for contacting me. As we move forward, I will continue to seek out the advice and opinions of all Virginians in order to help shape an improved health care system that will be in all of our best interests.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator