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Chellie Pingree on Health Care

Democratic Representative (ME-1)


Allow states to negotiate lower drug prices

Pingree will push to increase the bargaining power of states. Maine has led the way in attempting to lower drug costs for all residents by negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. However, states need more flexibility from the federal government to negotiate lower prices through the federally funded, state-administered Medicaid program. The creative work done in the states should not be tied up at every turn by this powerful industry. States should be allowed more flexibility under the law to seek creative solutions. Any state should be able to negotiate for lower prices from drug companies that provide drugs to the state’s Medicaid program -- and pass those discounts on to anyone who lacks prescription drug coverage, not just those on Medicaid.
Source: 2002 Senate campaign website, PingreeForSenate.com , Sep 26, 2002

Fight drug companies to make generic drugs available

Pingree will push to make lower priced, quality generic drugs available to consumers. Many people could save enormous amounts of money by buying high-quality, lower priced generic drugs, which often cost 25-60% less than expensive name-brand drugs. However, pharmaceutical companies use their influence to keep quality generic drugs off the market,. National drug policies should lower the barriers erected by the big drug companies and make quality generic drugs available to consumers.
Source: 2002 Senate campaign website, PingreeForSenate.com , Sep 26, 2002

Patient’s Rights to protect privacy

Pingree called for passage of a National Patients Bill of Rights that includes additional privacy protections for patients. “Keeping your medical records protected from the marketing departments of the pharmaceutical companies is a basic right that patients deserve,” said Pingree. “A National Patients Bill of Rights that includes privacy protections will ensure that doctors and heath care professionals -- not big drug or insurance companies -- make important heath care decisions.”
Source: 2002 Senate campaign website, PingreeForSenate.com , Aug 28, 2002

Voted NO on the Ryan Budget: Medicare choice, tax & spending cuts.

Proponent's Arguments for voting Yes:

[Sen. DeMint, R-SC]: The Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy. Republicans are trying to save Medicare & make sure there are options for seniors in the future. Medicare will not be there 5 or 10 years from now. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate [Congress will] pay.

[Sen. Ayotte, R-NH]: We have 3 choices when it comes to addressing rising health care costs in Medicare. We can do nothing & watch the program go bankrupt in 2024. We can go forward with the President's proposal to ration care through an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats. Or we can show real leadership & strengthen the program to make it solvent for current beneficiaries, and allow future beneficiaries to make choices.

Opponent's Arguments for voting No:

[Sen. Conrad, D-ND]: In the House Republican budget plan, the first thing they do is cut $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the wealthiest among us, they give them an additional $1 trillion in tax reductions. To offset these massive new tax cuts, they have decided to shred the social safety net. They have decided to shred Medicare. They have decided to shred program after program so they can give more tax cuts to those who are the wealthiest among us.

[Sen. Merkley, D-TK]: The Republicans chose to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan reopens the doughnut hole. That is the hole into which seniors fall when, after they have some assistance with the first drugs they need, they get no assistance until they reach a catastrophic level. It is in that hole that seniors have had their finances devastated. We fixed it. Republicans want to unfix it and throw seniors back into the abyss. Then, instead of guaranteeing Medicare coverage for a fixed set of benefits for every senior--as Medicare does now--the Republican plan gives seniors a coupon and says: Good luck. Go buy your insurance. If the insurance goes up, too bad.

Reference: Ryan Budget Plan; Bill HCR34&SCR21 ; vote number 11-HV277 on Apr 15, 2011

Voted NO on repealing the "Prevention and Public Health" slush fund.

Congressional Summary:Amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to repeal provisions establishing and appropriating funds to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (a Fund to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public sector health care costs). Rescinds any unobligated balanced appropriated to such Fund.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Pitts, R-PA]: Section 4002 of PPACA establishes a Prevention and Public Health Fund, which my bill, H.R. 1217, would repeal. The PPACA section authorizes the appropriation of and appropriates to the fund from the Treasury the following amounts:

We have created a slush fund from which the Secretary of HHS can spend without any congressional oversight or approval. I would suggest to my colleagues that, if you wanted more funding to go towards smoking cessation or to any other program, the health care law should have contained an explicit authorization. By eliminating this fund, we are not cutting any specific program. This is about reclaiming our oversight role of how Federal tax dollars should be used.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Waxman, D-CA]: This bill represents the Republicans' newest line of attack to disrupt, dismantle, and to ultimately destroy the Affordable Care Act. For many years, Republicans have joined with Democrats in supporting programs to prevent disease, to promote health and, in turn, to cut health care costs. But today, the House will vote to end funding for the first and only Federal program with dedicated, ongoing resources designed to make us a healthier Nation.

Reference: To repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund; Bill H.1217 ; vote number 11-HV264 on Apr 13, 2011

Voted YES on regulating tobacco as a drug.

Congressional Summary:Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to provide for the regulation of tobacco products by the Secretary of Health and Human Services through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Defines a tobacco product as any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption. Excludes from FDA authority the tobacco leaf and tobacco farms.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.

Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.

Reference: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Bill HR1256&S982 ; vote number 2009-H187 on Apr 2, 2009

Voted YES on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:

Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D, NJ-6): In the last Congress, we passed legislation that enjoyed bipartisan support as well as the support of the American people. Unfortunately, it did not enjoy the support of the President, who vetoed our bill twice, and went on to proclaim that uninsured children can simply go to the emergency room to have their medical needs met. As the Nation moves deeper into a recession and unemployment rates continue to rise, millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the uninsured, many of whom are children. We can't delay. We must enact this legislation now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ROY BLUNT (R, MI-7): This bill doesn't require the States to meet any kind of threshold standard that would ensure that States were doing everything they could to find kids who needed insurance before they begin to spend money to find kids who may not have the same need. Under the bill several thousands of American families would be poor enough to qualify for SCHIP and have the government pay for their health care, but they'd be rich enough to still be required to pay the alternative minimum tax. The bill changes welfare participation laws by eliminating the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to lawfully reside in the country before they can participate in this program. In the final bill, we assume that 65% of the children receiving the benefit wouldn't get the benefit anymore. It seems to me this bill needs more work, would have benefited from a committee hearing. It doesn't prioritize poor kids to ensure that they get health care first.

Reference: SCHIP Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.2 ; vote number 2009-H016 on Jan 14, 2009

Require insurers to cover breast cancer treatment.

Pingree co-sponsored Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act

Congressional Summary: Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code to require coverage and radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment.

Congressional Findings:

  1. According to the American Cancer Society, excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women.
  2. An estimated 40,480 women and 450 men died from breast cancer in 2008, and an estimated 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women, plus 1,990 cases in men.
  3. Most breast cancer patients undergo some type of surgical treatment.
  4. Treatment for breast cancer varies according to type of insurance coverage and State of residence.
  5. Currently, 20 States mandate minimum inpatient coverage after a patient undergoes a mastectomy.
  6. Breast cancer patients have reported adverse outcomes, including infection and inadequately controlled pain, resulting from premature hospital discharge following breast cancer surgery.
    Source: H.R.111 11-HR111 on Jan 5, 2011

    Increase funding for occupational & physical therapy.

    Pingree signed Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (MARS)

    Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2011 - Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to repeal the cap on outpatient physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy services of the type furnished by a physician or as an incident to physicians' services.

    SEC. 2. OUTPATIENT THERAPY CAP REPEAL.

    Section 1833 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395(l)) is amended by striking subsection (g).

    [Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com "Therapy Cap"]:

    In 1997 Congress established per-person Medicare spending limits, or "therapy cap" for nonhospital outpatient therapy, but responding to concerns that some people with Medicare need extensive services, it has since placed temporary moratoriums on the caps. The therapy cap is a combined $1,810 Medicare cap for physical therapy and speech language pathology, and a separate $1,810 cap for occupational therapy ($1870 for 2011). Medicare patients requiring rehabilitation from disabilities, car accidents, hip injuries, stroke, and other ailments would be limited to roughly two months worth of treatments at an outpatient therapy clinic. Any patients that exceed the cap, whether they are healed or not, would have to stop therapy, or pay for the therapy services out of their own pocket.Several medical associations have lobbied against therapy caps because the bill inadvertently restricted disabled seniors, stroke patients, and other severe cases from receiving therapy treatments.

    Source: HR.1546&S829 11-HR1546 on Apr 14, 2011

    Establish a public insurance option via healthcare Exchanges.

    Pingree co-sponsored Public Option Deficit Reduction Act

    Amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [PPACA, known as ObamaCare] to require Exchanges to offer a public health insurance option that ensures choice, competition, and stability of affordable, high-quality coverage throughout the United States. Declares that the primary responsibility is to create a low-cost plan without compromising quality or access to care. Sets forth provisions related to the establishment and governance of the public health insurance option, including that such plan:

    1. may be made available only through Exchanges;
    2. must comply with requirements applicable to other health benefits plans offered through such Exchanges; and
    3. must offer bronze, silver, and gold plan levels.
      Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:
    1. establish an office of the ombudsman for the public health insurance option;
    2. collect such data as may be required to establish premiums and payment rates;
    3. establish geographically adjusted premiums at a level sufficient to fully finance the costs of the health benefits provided and administrative costs related to the operation of the plan; and
    4. establish payment rates and provide for greater payment rates for the first three years.
    Requires repayment of start-up costs for the public health insurance option. Authorizes the Secretary to utilize innovative payment mechanisms and policies to determine payments for items and services under the public health insurance option.
    Source: H.R.191 11-HR191 on Jan 5, 2011

    Sponsored merging Alzheimers diagnosis and care benefit.

    Pingree co-sponsored HOPE for Alzheimer's Act

    Congressional Summary:The purpose of this Act is to increase diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, leading to better care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Congress makes the following findings:

    1. As many as half of the estimated 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease have never received a diagnosis.
    2. An early and documented diagnosis and access to care planning services leads to better outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
    3. Combining the existing Medicare benefits of a diagnostic evaluation and care planning into a single package of services would help ensure that individuals receive an appropriate diagnosis as well as critical information about the disease and available care options.

    Proponent's argument for bill: (The Alzheimer's Association, alz.org). The "Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act" (S.709/H.R. 1507) is one of the Alzheimer's Association's top federal priorities for the 113th Congress. The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act would improve diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and increase access to information on care and support for newly diagnosed individuals and their families. It would also ensure that an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis is documented in the individual's medical record.

    Source: S.709/H.R. 1507 13-H1507 on Apr 11, 2013

    2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Health Care: Chellie Pingree on other issues:
    ME Gubernatorial:
    Eliot Cutler
    Michael Michaud
    Paul LePage
    ME Senatorial:
    Angus King
    Scott D`Amboise
    Susan Collins

    Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
    FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
    FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
    IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
    LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
    MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
    MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
    NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
    NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
    SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

    Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
    FL-13:David Jolly(R)
    FL-19: Pending Nov.4
    IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
    LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
    MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
    MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
    NC-12: Pending Jul.15
    NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
    SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
    Won primary 2014:
    TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
    VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

    Retiring to run for Senate in 2014:
    AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
    CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
    GA-1: Jack Kingston(R)
    GA-10:Paul Broun(R)
    GA-11:Phil Gingrey(R)
    HI-1: Colleen Hanabusa(D)
    IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
    LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
    MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
    MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
    OK-5: James Lankford(R)
    TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
    WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

    Former Reps running for House in 2014:
    AL-5: Parker Griffith(R)
    CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
    GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
    CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
    IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
    IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
    MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
    MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
    NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
    NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
    NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
    OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
    PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
    TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
    Lost primary 2014:
    TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
    VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)

    Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
    AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
    CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
    ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
    PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
    VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

    Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
    AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
    AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
    CA-11:George Miller(D)
    CA-25:Howard McKeon(R)
    CA-31:Gary Miller(R)
    CA-33:Henry Waxman(D)
    CA-45:John Campbell(R)
    IA-3: Tom Latham(R)
    MI-4: Dave Camp(R)
    MI-6: Tom Petri(R)
    MI-12:John Dingell(D)
    MN-6: Michele Bachmann(R)
    NC-6: Howard Coble(R)
    NC-7: Mike McIntyre(D)
    NJ-3: Jon Runyan(R)
    NJ-12:Rush Holt(D)
    NY-4: Carolyn McCarthy(D)
    NY-21:Bill Owens(D)
    PA-6: Jim Gerlach(R)
    UT-4: Jim Matheson(D)
    VA-8: James Moran(D)
    VA-10:Frank Wolf(R)
    WA-4: Doc Hastings(R)
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    Page last updated: Jun 20, 2014