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Harold Ford on Health Care

Former Democratic Representative (TN-9, 1997-2007)


Let Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices

Medicare negotiating to lower drug prices
AARPSupports
CorkerNo response
FordSupports
Annual limit on federal Medicare spending
AARPOpposes
CorkerNo response
FordOpposes

Q: Do you support annual limits on Medicare spending?

A: Artificial caps on Medicare spending will not solve the problem of skyrocketing prescription costs. In fact, they will hurt the very people whom Medicare is supposed to protect.

Q:Should Medicare use its bargaining power to negotiate lower prescription drugs prices?

A: The federal government is the single largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the country. We should allow it to use its bargaining power and negotiate directly with drug companies. Anything less is a disservice to our seniors.

Source: AARP Senate candidate questionnaire Sep 29, 2006

Voted NO on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay.

Vote to pass a resolution, agreeing to S. AMDT. 2691 that removes the following provisions from S 1932:
Reference: Reconciliation resolution on the FY06 budget; Bill H Res 653 on S. AMDT. 2691 ; vote number 2006-004 on Feb 1, 2006

Voted NO on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages.

Vote to pass a bill that would limit the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases. The bill would limit non-economic damages, including physical and emotional pain to $250,000. The bill would also limit punitive damages to $250,000 or double economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Punitive damages would be banned against makers and distributors of medical products if the Food and Drug Administration approved those products. The bill would call for all states to set damage caps but would not block existing state statutory limits. The bill would cap attorneys' contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount in excess of $600,000.
Reference: Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation bill; Bill HR 4280 ; vote number 2004-166 on May 12, 2004

Voted NO on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients.

Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003: Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Starting in 2006, prescription coverage would be made available through private insurers to seniors. Seniors would pay a monthly premium of an estimated $35 in 2006. Individuals enrolled in the plan would cover the first $250 of annual drug costs themselves, and 25 percent of all drug costs up to $2,250. The government would offer a fallback prescription drug plan in regions were no private plans had made a bid.Over a 10 year time period medicare payments to managed care plans would increase by $14.2 billion. A pilot project would begin in 2010 in which Medicare would compete with private insurers to provide coverage for doctors and hospitals costs in six metropolitan areas for six years. The importation of drugs from Canada would be approved only if HHS determines there is no safety risks and that consumers would be saving money.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR.1 ; vote number 2003-669 on Nov 22, 2003

Voted NO on small business associations for buying health insurance.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit the creation of association health plans through which small companies could group together to buy insurance for their employees. Association health plans that cover employees in several states would be excused from many individual state insurance regulations but would be regulated by the Labor Department.
Reference: Small Business Health Fairness Act; Bill HR 660 ; vote number 2003-296 on Jun 19, 2003

Voted NO on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits.

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003: To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Limits the availability of punitive damages, and sets a 3-year limit for suing.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Greenwood, R-PA; Bill HR 5 ; vote number 2003-64 on Mar 13, 2003

Voted NO on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care. It would allow a patient to sue a health maintenance organization in state court but federal, not state, law would govern.
Bill HR 2563 ; vote number 2001-329 on Aug 2, 2001

Voted NO on subsidizing private insurance for Medicare Rx drug coverage.

HR 4680, the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, would institute a new program to provide voluntary prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries through subsidies to private plans. The program would cost an estimated $40 billion over five years and would go into effect in fiscal 2003.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HR 4680 ; vote number 2000-357 on Jun 28, 2000

Voted NO on banning physician-assisted suicide.

Vote on HR 2260, the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, would ban the use of drugs for physician-assisted suicide. The bill would not allow doctors to give lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients, and instead promotes "palliative care," or aggressive pain relief techniques.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 2260 ; vote number 1999-544 on Oct 27, 1999

Voted NO on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts.

The bill allows all taxpayers to create a tax-exempt account for paying medical expenses called a Medical Savings Account [MSA]. Also, the measure would allow the full cost of health care premiums to be taken as a tax deduction for the self-employed and taxpayers who are paying for their own insurance. The bill would also allow the establishment of "HealthMarts," regional groups of insurers, health care providers and employers who could work together to develop packages for uninsured employees. Another provision of the bill would establish "association health plan," in which organizations could combine resources to purchase health insurance at better rates than they could separately.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Talent, R-MO; Bill HR 2990 ; vote number 1999-485 on Oct 6, 1999

Better and immediate funding for Medicare & Medicaid.

Ford signed the Blue Dog Coalition letter to Congressional leadership:

We are writing on behalf of the House Blue Dog Caucus to request that bipartisan legislation be crafted for passage before the end of this Congress that adequately addresses the funding of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP programs. As you know, over 39 million seniors and the disabled rely on the Medicare program for their health care. A further 43 million Americans rely on the Medicaid and SCHIP programs. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 has produced cuts in spending far beyond what Congress and the Congressional Budget Office anticipated when the legislation was enacted. These greater-than- expected cuts threaten to jeopardize the health care of seniors and the disabled all across the country. While the Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 did provide some relief, it is clear that we need to do more. As we approach the end of the 106 Congress, it is impossible to th overstate the need for us to work on a bipartisan basis to write meaningful legislation that can be signed by the President.

We strongly believe there is a need to separate the provisions of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protections Act from H.R. 2614 and that bipartisan negotiations should be undertaken to improve this package so that it better provides for the critical needs of vulnerable patients. We respectfully submit that by working in a bipartisan basis, the 106 Congress can take th significant actions to help alleviate the current problems being faced by health care providers and patients that must be addressed. Waiting until next year to address this problem may be too late.

Source: Blue Dog Coalition press release 00-BDC1 on Dec 5, 2000

Prescription drug benefit within Medicare.

Ford adopted the Blue Dog Coalition press release:

We strongly believe that Congress should enact a Medicare prescription drug benefit that is available, affordable, dependable and voluntary for all seniors. The Blue Dog Coalition supports proposals to provide prescription drug coverage through a defined Medicare benefit that is available to all Medicare beneficiaries. Given the shortcomings of existing private plans, we believe that relying on private sector insurance plans will leave many beneficiaries without adequate coverage.

    An effective prescription drug benefit must:
  1. provide a benefit which is available to all seniors, including those in rural areas;
  2. provide equal treatment for all seniors, without disparities in coverage between rural, urban and suburban regions;
  3. use market power of seniors to reduce costs through competition;
  4. help low and middle-income seniors afford prescription medicine costs;
  5. allow participation by local pharmacists, not just mail order pharmacies; and
  6. be consistent with Medicare modernization.
Providing prescription drug coverage as a Medicare defined benefit ensures that all seniors, regardless of where they live, will have access to the same benefit plan. The Coalition opposes H.R. 4680, unless it is modified to provide all seniors with the option of prescription drug coverage.

Relying on private sector plans to deliver prescription drug coverage will not achieve the goals outlined above. It will not be cost effective for private plans to offer coverage in rural areas, which will result in expensive government subsidies to attract plans to rural areas. Rural seniors should not be forced to pay higher premiums or have less generous benefits, simply because they live in areas that are not financially attractive to private insurance companies.”

Source: Blue Dog Coalition press release 00-BDC2 on Jun 28, 2000

Establish "report cards" on HMO quality of care.

Ford adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Promote Universal Access and Quality in Health Care
That more than 40 million Americans lack health insurance is one of our society’s most glaring inequities. Lack of insurance jeopardizes the health of disadvantaged Americans and also imposes high costs on everyone else when the uninsured lack preventive care and get treatment from emergency rooms. Washington provides a tax subsidy for insurance for Americans who get coverage from their employers but offers nothing to workers who don’t have job-based coverage.

Markets alone cannot assure universal access to health coverage. Government should enable all low-income families to buy health insurance. Individuals must take responsibility for insuring themselves and their families whether or not they qualify for public assistance.

Finally, to help promote higher quality in health care for all Americans, we need reliable information on the quality of health care delivered by health plans and providers; a “patient’s bill of rights” that ensures access to medically necessary care; and a system in which private health plans compete on the basis of quality as well as cost.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC5 on Aug 1, 2000

Increase funding for AIDS treatment & prevention.

Ford adopted the CBC principles:

HIV/AIDS Initiatives
The CBC’s Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative will focus on those areas hardest hit by the epidemic, many of which are in districts that we represent. The initiative will focus on prevention and treatment and we will also seek to re-direct and/or increase funding levels based on a detailed review of the implementation of the initiative. In addition, the CBC recognizes the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on the global workforce, specifically in Africa, and on the allocation of resources of developing countries. Therefore, the CBC will continue its efforts to support a comprehensive global policy aimed at ending the scourge of HIV/AIDS around the globe.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC5 on Jan 6, 2001

More funding for Rx benefits, community health, CHIPs.

Ford adopted the CBC principles:

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC6 on Jan 6, 2001

Rated 86% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

Ford scores 86% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.

Ford co-sponsored the Birth Defects Prevention Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1114. Became Public Law No: 105-168.
Source: Bill sponsored by 35 Senators and 164 Reps 97-S419 on Mar 11, 1997

Other candidates on Health Care: Harold Ford on other issues:
TN Gubernatorial:
Bill Haslam
TN Senatorial:
Bob Corker
Lamar Alexander

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Page last updated: Nov 26, 2010