|00:00:01||LAST WEEK, I WAS ABLE TO JOIN SOME OF MY COLLEAGUES TO CALL FOR PASSAGE OF OUR EDUCATION AGENDA, TONIGHT I WANTED TO JOIN YOU IN TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE.|
|00:00:11||A FEW WEEKS AGO I JOINED SENATOR DORGAN OF NORTH DAKOTA, ALONG WITH CONGRESSMAN BERRY, AND OTHERS AT A HEARING IN THE OTHER BODY TO CALL ON THEIR LEADERSHIP TO BRING THE PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS TO THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE AND TO PASS IT.|
|00:00:27||TO DATE NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.|
|00:00:29||THAT'S DESPITE THE TESTIMONY OF PATIENTS, OF A MOTHER WHO LOST HER DAUGHTER BECAUSE SHE WAS DENIED THE TEST AND CARE SHE NEEDED, THE TESTIMONY OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS WHO SAID HOW THEIR PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT AND THEIR VALUES WERE DEARLY COMPROMISED BY HAVING TO WORK UNDER THE CURRENT MANAGED CARE SYSTEM.|
|00:00:48||THIS SYSTEM HAS TO BE REFORMED TO ALLOW DOCTORS AND OTHER PROVIDERS TO MAKE DECISIONS IN CONSULTATION WITH THEIR PATIENTS ON WHAT MEDICAL TESTS AND CARE IS INDICATED IN EACH INSTANCE.|
|00:00:58||TO HAVE THE SYSTEM BETTER RESPOND TO THE NEEDS OF PATIENTS FOR ACCESS TO EMERGENCY SERVICES AND SPECIALISTS.|
|00:01:04||AND TO MAKE THOSE WHO ARE MAKING DECISIONS ON HEALTH CARE TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THOSE DECISIONS.|
|00:01:11||PEOPLE ALL OVER THIS COUNTRY ARE DISSATISFIED WITH MANAGED CARE.|
|00:01:16||THEY WANT THE SYSTEM REVAMPED.|
|00:01:17||THEY WANT A PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS.|
|00:01:20||THE VICE PRESIDENT IS POISED TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN, AND WE, THEIR REPRESENTATIVES, NEED TO RESPOND.|
|00:01:26||I WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY TIME ON THE MEDICARE GIVEBACKS BEING PROPOSED AS A REMEDY FOR THE CUTS THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT OF 1997.|
|00:01:38||IT IS IMPORTANT THAT IN THIS MEASURE THE ONES PROPOSED, THOSE WHO ARE ON THE FRONTLINES PROVIDING HEALTH CARE TO THOSE IN NEED BE TREATED FAIRLY AND BE GIVEN PRECEDENTS SINCE THEY ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE SUFFERED THE MOST ALONG WITH THE PATIENTS WHO RELY ON THEM FOR SERVICE.|
|00:01:56||IN MY DISTRICT, OUR ONLY PRIVATE HOME CARE AGENCY WAS FORCED TO CLOSE, AND OUR PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY FORCED TO CUT BACK BECAUSE OF THE CUTS THAT WERE IMPOSED IN B.|
|00:02:10||B.A. 1997. THIS IS A SITUATION THAT HAS BEEN REPEATED IN TOWNS, CITIES, AND RURAL AREAS AROUND THE COUNTRY.|
|00:02:15||OUR HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDSES -- VIRGIN ISLANDS ARE LUCKY TO STILL BE OPENED, BUT IT'S BEEN A STRUGGLE TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE CARE.|
|00:02:24||OTHERS HAVE HAD TO CLOSE THEIR DOORS, AND I WANT TO SAY TO THE NATION'S HOSPITALS, DO NOT ACCEPT THE TROJAN HORSE THAT IS BEING OFFERED TO YOU, THE RECOMMENDATION AS IT NOW STANDS IS WRONG.|
|00:02:37||DON'T LET US BE PICKED OFF ONE BY ONE AND PITTED AGAINST EACH OTHER.|
|00:02:41||WE CAN ALL WIN IF WE STAND TOGETHER ON THIS ISSUE.|
|00:02:45||AS A DOCTOR I KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO MEET OVERHEAD COSTS AND TO KEEP PROVIDING SERVICES WHEN THE FEES KEEP GETTING SMALLER.|
|00:02:52||OUR EXPENSES AND OUR OPERATING OVERHEAD ARE NOT GOING DOWN, THEY ARE GOING UP.|
|00:02:57||OUR PATIENTS NEED AT THE VERY LEAST THE SAME LEVEL OF CARE AND THEY DESERVE TO HAVE THEIR NEEDS MET.|
|00:03:03||I RESENT THE FACT THAT THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP WANTS TO GIVE H.|
|00:03:09||M.O.'S ANY PART OF THAT GIVEBACK.|
|00:03:11||FOR WHAT? THEY PROMISE NOTHING IN RETURN.|
|00:03:13||THEY HAVE LEFT MEDICARE PATIENTS, OUR ELDERLY, STRANDED BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT MAKE THE DESIRED PROFIT.|
|00:03:19||THEY ARE HOLDING OUT THEIR HANDS FOR MORE MONEY NOW, AND THEY ARE NOT EVEN BEING MADE TO INCREASE THE SERVICE TO THE SPECIAL POPULATION.|
|00:03:27||FOR TOO LONG H.|
|00:03:28||M.O.'S HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO TAKE THE CARE OUT OF HEALTH CARE, AND WE SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.|
|00:03:34||WE NEED TO GIVE DOLLARS BACK TO THE PROVIDERS OF HEALTH CARE, TO THE DOCTORS, NURSING HOMES, HOSPITALS, AND HOME HEALTH CARE AGENCIES.|
Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. PALLONE) said, the big issues that remain before us as we come close to the end of the 106th Congress are the same ones that we have not been able to get the Republican leadership of this body to adequately address through several Congresses, not just this one, education and health care.
Last week I was able to join some of my colleagues to call for passage of our education agenda. But tonight I want to join my colleague in talking about health care.
A few weeks ago, I joined Senator BYRON DORGAN of North Dakota, along with the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. BERRY) and others at a hearing in the other body to call on their leadership to bring the patients' bill of rights to the floor for a vote and to pass it. To date nothing has happened. That is despite the testimony of patients, of a mother who lost her daughter because she was denied the test and care that she needed, the testimony of health care professionals who said how their professional judgment and their values were daily compromised by having to work under the current managed care system.
The system has to be reformed to allow doctors and other providers to make decisions in consultation with their patients on what medical tests and care is indicated in each instance, to have the system better respond to the needs of patients for access to emergency services and specialists, and to make those who are making decisions on health care to be accountable for those decisions.
People all over this country are dissatisfied with managed care. They want the system revamped. They want a patients' bill of rights. The Vice President is poised to make that happen and we, their Representatives, need to respond.
I want to spend the rest of my time on the Medicare give-backs that are being proposed as a remedy for the cuts that took place in the Balanced Budget Amendment of 1997. It is important that, in this measure, the one that is proposed, those who are on the front lines providing health care to those in need be treated fairly and be given precedence since they are the ones who have suffered the most along with the patients who rely on them for service.
In my district, our only private home care agency was forced to close and our public health agency forced to cut back because of the cuts that were imposed in BBA 1997. This is a situation that has been repeated in towns, cities and rural areas around the country. Our hospitals and nursing homes in the Virgin Islands are lucky to still be open, although it has been a struggle to continue to provide care. Others have had to close their doors.
I want to say to the Nation's hospitals, do not accept the Trojan Horse that is being offered to you. The recommendation as it now stands is wrong. Do not let us be picked off one by one and pitted against each other. We can all win if we stand together on this issue.
As a doctor, I know how difficult it is to meet overhead costs and to keep providing services when the fees keep getting smaller. Our expenses and our operating overhead are not going down. They are going up. Our patients need, at the very least, the same level of care, and they deserve to have their needs met.
I resent the fact that the Republican leadership wants to give HMOs any part of that give-back. For what? They promise nothing in return. They have left Medicare patients, our elderly, stranded because they could not make the desired profit. They are holding out their hands for more money now, and they are not even being made to increase the service to the special population.
For too long, HMOs have been allowed to take the care out of ``health care,'' and we say enough is enough. We need to give the dollars back to the providers of health care, to the doctors and nursing homes, hospitals and home health care agencies. The people of this country deserve the full range of health services, and giving our providers fair reimbursements and helping them to stay in business makes that possible. We in the Democratic Caucus say give the money to those who care, give it to the providers, not to the HMOs.
I must also mention an issue that is important to my district. That is the increases in Medicaid that the administration is seeking and the redistribution of the Children's Health Insurance Program funds that are not used by the States. In my district and the other territories, we have a cap on our Medicaid dollars; and we receive CHIP funds under a formula which does not allow us to provide the level or the scope of health care that our residents need. With our cap, we are unable to provide Medicaid to people even at the poverty level. So we have a large gap between those who are covered by Medicaid and the uninsured.
The Journal of the American Medical Association today reported a study on uninsured adults showing that when [Page: H10895] they are uninsured they are just not able to access any care, they go without even preventive services. And Sanda Adamson Fryhofer, the President of the American College of Physicians American Society of Internal Medicine, which funded this study, is quoted as saying, ``Studies such as this one,'' the one on the uninsured adults, ``prove that living without insurance,'' which many of the people in my district do and have done for years, ``is a serious health risk that needs to be treated with the same sense of urgency as not wearing seatbelts or drunken driving.'' In my district, close to one-third of the children are estimated to be uninsured. Kids count. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands recently released a report that showed that 41 percent of our children live in poverty, twice the national rate, and that deaths among Virgin Islands children under 14 are also nearly twice the national rate.
Health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few. We have to get that straight before we adjourn and leave for this election.
This means passing a meaningful patients' bill of rights. It means adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare. It means making up for the damage we have done to hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, doctors and other providers with the cuts in 1997. And it means making CHIP and Medicaid fair and equitable to all Americans.
In closing, I want to take this opportunity because some of my colleagues will be on the floor later to pay tribute to another of our colleagues. I want to wish the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. WEYGAND) well and thank him for his service to our class in the Congress. I want to especially thank him for the interest and help in the national park and other issues in my district. And although we hate to see him leave this body, it is good to know that they will be able to count on his able leadership in the other body. He will make a great Senator from Rhode Island. We thank him for his service.