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Roy Blunt on Health Care

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (MO-7)


Medical liability reform would reduce cost of health care

The Kansas City Star reports that in the race for a Senate seat in Missouri, "Democrat Robin Carnahan and Republican Roy Blunt exchanged accusations and promised changes in Washington during a crisp, pointed one-hour debate. The sharpest exchange came during a discussion of health care reform. Carnahan accused Blunt of opposing the health care law because of ties to lobbyists. 'I think people should have access,' she said. 'They should have the same access you have as a member of Congress. So I think if you want to repeal health care reform and let insurance companies go back to their worst abuses, Congressman, then you ought to repeal your own first. And man up. And do what you're asking other people to do.' That prompted a quick response from the Republican, who accused Carnahan of opposing medical liability reform, a move he said would reduce the cost of health care, because she's taken support from lawyers."
Source: Medical News Today coverage of 2010 Missouri Senate Debate , Oct 18, 2010

Missourians know ObamaCare won't work

Blunt zeroed in on several recent Democrat-backed bills--the $787 billion economic stimulus package, health care reform and the proposed cap-and-trade climate change legislation--as he sought to tie Carnahan to the Democrats in power. "This agenda is way too extreme for Americans," said Blunt.

"I'm different," Carnahan said, accusing Blunt of wanting to disband Medicare, the government health care program for seniors and the disabled. Blunt disputed the claim.

Blunt pushed back on health care reform, citing the Proposition C ballot initiative opposing the bill that passed by more than 70%. "Missourians know this won't work," he said. "As people find out what's in this bill, they know there are better ways.

Carnahan accused Blunt not addressing the problem of rising health care costs sooner. "If you wanted to do something about health care, why didn't you do it when you were in charge?" she said.

Source: Springfield News-Leader on 2010 Missouri Senate debate , Oct 15, 2010

Limit health costs by limiting medical malpractice liability

The pair's sharpest exchange came over the health care reform law, which Blunt has said should be repealed. Carnahan suggested Blunt should first surrender his own congressional health insurance. "If you want to repeal health care reform and let insurance companies go back to their worst abuses, Congressman, then you ought to repeal your own first," she said. "And man up, and do what you're asking other people to do."

Blunt responded by saying he tried to limit health care costs by limiting medical malpractice liability--a position he said Carnahan opposed because of financial support from trial lawyers. "Don't tell me I wasn't doing my job," Blunt said. "Don't tell me I wasn't trying."

Source: Kansas City Star coverage of 2010 Missouri Senate debate , Oct 14, 2010

Interstate competition among insurers; no denial of coverage

We need big changes in health insurance. Consumers deserve lower prices and more choices. This means ensuring interstate competition among insurers. It also means we must complete the work of ending denial of coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

I is time for bold action to assure that everyone can afford basic coverage that assures access to quality health care, including some government help for those in economic need.

It means honoring our promise to senior citizens, that their later years will provide health care security in return for the taxes they paid faithfully during decades in the work force. Roy will not accept a central feature in ObamaCare bills offered in Congress, to make huge cuts in Medicare in order to get money for new spending programs that do not serve seniors.

When Congress listens to America and works on bipartisan solutions, great things can be accomplished. Tragically, the President & a one-party Congress have made no credible effort to work in a bipartisan way

Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.royblunt.com, "Issues" , Dec 25, 2009

Voted YES 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.
Status: Failed 40-57

Reference: Ryan Budget Plan; Bill HCR34&SCR21 ; vote number 11-SV077 on May 25, 2011

Voted NO 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

Voted NO on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare.

Congressional Summary:Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):In addition, H.R. 6331 would delay important reforms like the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies competitive bidding program. Changing policy in mid-stream is also confusing to beneficiaries who are receiving services from quality suppliers at lower prices. In order to slow the growth in Medicare spending, competition within the program should be expanded, not diminished.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.

Reference: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act; Bill HR.6331 ; vote number 2008-H491 on Jul 15, 2008

Voted NO on giving mental health full equity with physical health.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. PALLONE. This is a comprehensive bill which will establish full mental health and addiction care parity. The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 authorized for 5 years partial parity by mandating that the annual and lifetime dollar limit for mental health treatment under group health plans offering mental health coverage be no less than that for physical illnesses. This bill requires full parity and also protects against discrimination by diagnosis.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. DEAL of Georgia: I am a supporter of the concept of mental health parity, but this bill before us today is not the correct approach. This path will raise the price of health insurance, and would cause some to lose their health insurance benefits and some employers to terminate mental health benefits altogether.

The bill's focus is also overly broad. Our legislation should focus on serious biologically-based mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, not on jet lag and caffeine addiction, as this bill would include. There are no criteria for judicial review, required notice and comment, or congressional review of future decisions.

I would ask my colleagues to vote "no" today so that we can take up the Senate bill and avoid a possible stalemate in a House-Senate conference on an issue that should be signed into law this Congress.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 268-148

Reference: Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act; Bill H.R.1424 ; vote number 08-HR1424 on Mar 5, 2008

Voted NO on Veto override: Extend SCHIP to cover 6M more kids.

OnTheIssues Explanation: This vote is a veto override of the SCHIP extension (State Children's Health Insurance Program). The bill passed the House 265-142 on 10/25/07, and was vetoed by Pres. Bush on 12/12/07.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: This Act would enroll all 6 million uninsured children who are eligible, but not enrolled, for coverage under existing programs.

PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE: Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. My Administration strongly supports reauthorization of SCHIP. [But this bill, even with changes, does not meet the requirements I outlined].

It would still shift SCHIP away from its original purpose by covering adults. It would still include coverage of many individuals with incomes higher than the median income. It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill protects health insurance coverage for some 6 million children who now depend on SCHIP. It provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. Together, this is a total of better than 10 million young Americans who, without this legislation, would not have health insurance.

The bill makes changes to accommodate the President's stated concerns.

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults in 1 year.
  2. It prohibits States from covering children in families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.
  4. It encourages securing health insurance provided through private employer.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Veto override failed, 260-152 (2/3rds required)
Reference: SCHIP Extension; Bill Veto override on H.R.3963 ; vote number 08-HR3963 on Jan 23, 2008

Voted NO on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility.

Allows State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), that require state legislation to meet additional requirements imposed by this Act, additional time to make required plan changes. Pres. Bush vetoed this bill on Dec. 12, 2007, as well as a version (HR976) from Feb. 2007.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. It meets the concerns expressed in the President's veto message [from HR976]:

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults.
  2. It targets bonus payments only to States that increase enrollments of the poorest uninsured children, and it prohibits States from covering families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. DEAL: This bill [fails to] fix the previous legislation that has been vetoed:

Veto message from President Bush:

Like its predecessor, HR976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.

Reference: Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R. 3963 ; vote number 2007-1009 on Oct 25, 2007

Voted NO on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D.

Would require negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors for covered Medicare part D drugs.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.

Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill HR 4 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-023 on Jan 12, 2007

Voted YES 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 YES 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 YES 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 allowing reimportation of prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill that would call for the Food and Drug Administration to begin a program that would permit the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and South Africa.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gutknecht, R-MN; Bill HR.2427 ; vote number 2003-445 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted YES 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 YES 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 YES 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 YES 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 YES 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 YES 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

Rated 0% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record.

Blunt scores 0% 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

Supports repealing nationalized healthcare law.

Blunt supports the CC survey question on repealing healthcare reform

The Christian Coalition voter guide [is] one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections. This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.

The CC survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Supports repealing nationalized healthcare law that forces citizens to buy insurance or pay fines."

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 10-CC-q5a on Aug 11, 2010

Opposes physician-assisted suicide.

Blunt opposes the CC survey question on physician-assisted suicide

The Christian Coalition voter guide [is] one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections. This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.

The CC survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: Legislation allowing physician-assisted suicide (Right-to-Die)"

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 10-CC-qCR on Aug 11, 2010

Repeal any federal health care takeover.

Blunt signed Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" Pledge

The Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" Pledge for candidates states, "I hereby pledge to the people of my district/state upon my election to the U.S. House of Representatives/U.S. Senate, to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government."

Source: Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" Pledge 10-CfG-can on Jul 4, 2010

Increase funding for occupational & physical therapy.

Blunt 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-S0829 on Apr 14, 2011

Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.

Blunt 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

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