Bud Cramer on Health Care
Democratic Representative (AL-5)
Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):
- Extends Medicare to cover additional preventive services.
- Includes body mass index and end-of-life planning among initial preventive physical examinations.
- Eliminates by 2014 [the currently higher] copayment rates for Medicare psychiatric services.
I support the primary objective of this legislation, to forestall reductions in physician payments. Yet taking choices away from seniors to pay physicians is wrong. This bill is objectionable, and I am vetoing it because: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.
- It would harm beneficiaries by taking private health plan options away from them.
- It would undermine the Medicare prescription drug program.
- It is fiscally irresponsible, and it would imperil the long-term fiscal soundness of Medicare by using short-term budget gimmicks that do not solve the problem.
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;
; vote number 2008-H491
on Jul 15, 2008
Voted YES on giving mental health full equity with physical health.
- Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008: Requires group health plans to apply the same treatment limits on mental health or substance-related disorder benefits as they do for medical and surgical benefits (parity requirement).
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008: Prohibits a group health plan from adjusting premium or contribution amounts for a group on the basis of genetic information.
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;
; vote number 08-HR1424
on Mar 5, 2008
Voted YES 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.
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
- It terminates the coverage of childless adults in 1 year.
- It prohibits States from covering children in families with incomes above $51,000.
- It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.
- It encourages securing health insurance provided through private employer.
Voted YES 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]:
- It terminates the coverage of childless adults.
- 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.
- 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:
- On illegal immigration: Would the verification system prevent an illegal alien from fraudulently using another person's name to obtain SCHIP benefits? No.
- On adults in SCHIP: Up to 10% of the enrollees in SCHIP will be adults, not children, in the next 5 years, and money for poor children shouldn't go to cover adults.
- On crowd-out: The CBO still estimates there will be some 2 million people who will lose their private health insurance coverage and become enrolled in a government-run program.
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 YES 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 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
- Allows hospitals to refuse treatment to Medicaid patients when they are unable to pay their co-pay if the hospital deems the situation to be a non-emergency
- Excludes payment to grandparents for foster care
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;
; vote number 2003-669
on Nov 22, 2003
Voted YES 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;
; 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 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 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
Better and immediate funding for Medicare & Medicaid.
Cramer 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.
Cramer 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: 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.
- provide a benefit which is available to all seniors, including those in rural areas;
- provide equal treatment for all seniors, without disparities in coverage between rural, urban and suburban regions;
- use market power of seniors to reduce costs through competition;
- help low and middle-income seniors afford prescription medicine costs;
- allow participation by local pharmacists, not just mail order pharmacies; and
- be consistent with Medicare modernization.
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.
Cramer 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.
Goals for 2010
Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC5 on Aug 1, 2000
- Reduce the number of uninsured Americans by two-thirds through tax credits, purchasing pools, and other means.
- Create a system of reliable “report cards” on the quality of care delivered by health plans and providers.
Limit anti-trust lawsuits on health plans and insurers.
Cramer co-sponsored limiting anti-trust lawsuits on health plans and insurers
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:
- Delineates the relationship between the antitrust laws and negotiations between groups of health care professionals and health plans and health care insurance issuers.
- Applies the "rule of reason" standard to negotiations between a health plan and two or more physicians.
- Awards attorneys' fees to a substantially prevailing plaintiff only when the defendant's conduct was unreasonable or in bad faith.
- Prohibits tying arrangements (linking the participation in one product line to participation in another) between a health plan and health care professional.
- Excludes from this Act any negotiations or agreements including Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, or other federal programs.
EXCERPTS FROM CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS:
Congress finds the following:
- A large number of Americans receive their health care coverage from managed health care plans.
- The market power of insurance companies has increased
tremendously since the early 1990's, due to mergers and acquisitions.
- Health plans improperly manipulate the practice of medicine through such mechanisms as inappropriately making medical necessity determinations, and knowingly denying and delaying payment.
- The intent of the antitrust laws is to encourage competition and protect the consumer, and the current per se standard for enforcing the antitrust laws in the health care field frequently does not achieve these objectives.
- An application of the "rule of reason" will tend to promote both competition and high-quality patient care.
- In any action under the antitrust laws challenging a health plan, conduct shall not be deemed illegal per se, but shall be judged on the basis of its reasonableness, taking into account all relevant factors affecting competition and proposed contract terms.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary; never called for a House vote.
Source: Health Care Antitrust Improvements Act (H.R.3897) 02-HR3897 on Mar 7, 2002
Rated 33% by APHA, indicating a mixed record on public health issues.
Cramer scores 33% 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
Establish a national childhood cancer database.
Cramer co-sponsored establishing a national childhood cancer database
Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 - A bill to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers.
Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to childhood cancer professional and direct service organizations for the expansion and widespread implementation of: Legislative Outcome: House version H.R.1553; became Public Law 110-285 on 7/29/2008.
Source: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act (S911/HR1553) 07-S911 on Mar 19, 2007
- activities that provide information on treatment protocols to ensure early access to the best available therapies and clinical trials for pediatric cancers;
- activities that provide available information on the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment to ensure access to necessary long-term medical and psychological care; and
- direct resource services such as educational outreach for parents, information on school reentry and postsecondary education, and resource directories or referral services for financial assistance, psychological counseling, and other support services.
Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.
Cramer co-sponsored the Birth Defects Prevention Act
Directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out programs to: 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
- collect and analyze, and make available data on the causes of birth defects and on the incidence and prevalence of such defects;
- operate regional centers for the conduct of applied epidemiological research on the prevention of such defects;
- provide information and education to the public on the prevention of such defects;
- collect and analyze data by gender and by racial and ethnic group9/6/2004
- collect such data from birth and death certificates, hospital records, and such other sources; and
- (3) encourage States to establish or improve programs for the collection and analysis of epidemiological data on birth defects and to make the data available.
Page last updated: Mar 15, 2012