Kids’ health bill, pro-consumer measures pass
Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007
(Washington, DC) – The children’s health insurance bill approved by the House today is a great step forward for the health of our nation’s children, and includes important provisions to help all consumers access the most cost-effective prescription drugs and treatments, Consumers Union said.
“Not only will our kids’ health dramatically improve under this bill, but medical consumers of all ages will see benefits in safer, more effective and more affordable healthcare,” said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
“This bill also finally takes serious the question of which prescription drugs, medical devices and treatments work best, and lets patients and doctors know that information,” Vaughan added.
The Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007, approved Wednesday by the House, will provide effective healthcare coverage for most of the 6 million lower-income children who are generally eligible for, but not currently enrolled in, Medicaid or SCHIP.
The House version of the bill provides more funding than the Senate version ($50 billion over five years versus $35 billion), but the Senate was able to garner a veto-proof majority, with 68 Senators—Democrats and Republicans— supporting the measure. The two bills must now be reconciled in conference committee before going to President Bush, who in the past has threatened to veto the measure.
The House measure also includes significant funding – $375 million by the year 2011 – for comparing the effectiveness of prescription drugs, medical devices and treatments, and making those results known to consumers. It will be funded by a user fee on insurance companies and Medicare.
Another major savings – $1.2 billion saved over 10 years – would come from ending Medicare’s practice of randomly assigning low-income beneficiaries to expensive Part D prescription drug plans that don’t provide coverage to the most needed drugs than less-expensive plans.
Stopping the spread of deadly hospital-acquired infections could also be spurred under the bill. It calls for cutting Medicare payments from preventable errors like hospital-acquired infections, a major threat that kills nearly 100,000 people each year.
“House members who supported this bill should be congratulated for improving healthcare for children, while holding down costs for seniors and taxpayers,” Vaughan said. “This is an important step forward in stopping runaway healthcare costs and paying for health services that don’t work.”
Contact: Bill Vaughan, 202-462-626