Mark Kirk on Health Care
Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (IL-10)
Q: On Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?
Kirk: Voted for several bills that contributed to shutdown, then for compromise that resolved it.
Q: On Healthcare: Should Planned Parenthood be eligible to receive public funds for non-abortion health services?
KIRK: That's right. We have to be the party of better. We just can't be the party of no. So we put together the Republican alternative which I introduced into Congress, 400 pages. It was not allowed for a debate, or even discussion or a vote. But it did three big things: first, the Medical Rights Act that says Congress should make no law interfering with the decisions you made with your doctor. Second, lawsuit reform which was completely skipped and needs to be in there. And third, Congress should defend your right to buy health insurance from any state in the union if you find the plan less expensive to cover your families.
Q: All right. But you will try to repeal it?
[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
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.
Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.
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.
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.
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
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.
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]:
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.
H.R. 1181 the Health Insurance Affordability and Equity Act
With 40 million Americans currently living without health insurance, Republican Main Street Partnership members have been leading the effort to find new and innovative ways to secure health care for our citizens. Easing the burden on businesses entering into insurance purchasing pools, and expanding the use of medical savings accounts (MSAs) have been included in previous economic stimulus packages. RMSP Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (CT) in conjunction with Representatives Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Melissa Hart (PA), Jim Kolbe (AZ), Connie Morella (MD), Doug Ose (CA), Marge Roukema (NJ), Rob Simmons (CT), Fred Upton (MI), and Jim Walsh (NY) introduced legislation that targets tax credits to those that are not offered employee provided health insurance, or are self employed.
H.R. 831/S. 621 the Long Term Care and Retirement Security Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership Senators Lincoln Chafee (RI), Susan Collins (ME), and Gordon Smith (OR) joined House of Representatives sponsors Reps. Charlie Bass (NH), Dave Camp (MI), Tom Davis (VA), Greg Ganske (IA), Ben Gilman (NY), Dave Hobson (OH), Steve Horn (CA), Nancy Johnson (CT), Sue Kelly (NY), Ray LaHood (IL), Connie Morella (MD), Deborah Pryce (OH), Jim Ramstad (MN), and Rob Simmons (CT) in securing health insurance for seniors and those in long-term care facilities. As new medicines and healthier lifestyles are extending life, more and more Americans need to prepare for their long-term health needs. This legislation allows a tax deduction on long-term care insurance premiums for taxpayers, including accelerated deductions persons for people 55 years of age and up.
H.R. 2706, The Medicare Telehealth Validation (MTV) Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership members Congressman Doug Ose (CA) and Jo Ann Emerson (MO) have introduced this bill to increase the use of telehealth services under the Medicare program. Currently, telehealth services are restricted to use in certain geographically underserved areas. The MTV Act provides sufficient funding and regulatory relief to expand high technology medical diagnostic tools, across the Internet, to urban as well as rural underserved areas. The bill further provides for expansion of store-and-forward techniques, and for a study of the restrictions on telemedicine due to state licensing rules.
Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
One of issues to be addressed this year by Congress is that of providing a prescription drug benefit to our nation's Medicare beneficiaries. Legislation currently being drafted [by Republican Main Street Partnership members] intends to authorize $350 billion over the next 10 years to provide purchasing assistance for prescription medications. The benefit reaches out to low and moderate income seniors by extending coverage to incomes up to 150% of the poverty level. The bill could also include provisions to correct reimbursement reductions for physicians, nurses, hospitals, technicians, home health care providers, and long-term care facilities.
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.
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.
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."
The Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" Pledge for incumbents states, "I hereby pledge to the people of my district/state 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."
Congressional Summary: To provide an additional religious exemption from the individual health coverage mandate. This Act may be cited as the 'Equitable Access to Care and Health Act' or the 'EACH Act'. The 'Religious Conscience Exemption' exempts individuals who are members of a recognized religious sect which relies solely on a religious method of healing, and for whom the acceptance of medical health services would be inconsistent with their religious beliefs.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (TheHill.com weblog, April 29, 2013): "We believe the EACH Act balances a respect for religious diversity against the need to prevent fraud and abuse," wrote Reps. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and William Keating (D-MA). "It is imperative we expand the religious conscience exemption now as the Administration is verifying the various exemptions to the individual mandate," they wrote. Religious exemption from ObamaCare has come up before, including contraception. The EACH Act, however, deals only with exemptions from the insurance mandate.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (CHILD, Inc. "Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty", Dec. 2014): The Christian Science church is pushing hard to get another religious exemption through Congress. The EACH Act exempts everyone with "sincerely held religious beliefs" from the mandate to buy health insurance. We are particularly concerned about uninsured children: hundreds of American children have died because of their family's religious objections to medical care. The EACH Act increases the risk to children in faith-healing sects and the cost to the state if the children do get medical care. Some complain that their church members should not have to pay for health care that they won't use. But insurance works on the assumption that many in the pool of policyholders will not draw from it. Most people with fire insurance don't have their homes burn, for example.
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
Senate races 2017-8:
AL: Strange(R) ; no opponent yet
AZ: Flake(R) vs. Ward(R)
CA: Feinstein(D) vs. Eisen(D) vs. Sanchez?(D) vs. Garcetti?(D)
CT: Murphy(D) ; no opponent yet
DE: Carper(D) vs. Biden?(D) vs. Markell?(D)
FL: Nelson(D) vs. DeSantis(R) vs. Jolly(R) vs. Lopez-Cantera(R)
HI: Hirono(D) ; no opponent yet
IN: Donnelly(D) vs. Hurt(R)
MA: Warren(D) vs. Ayyadurai(R)
MD: Cardin(D) ; no opponent yet
ME: King(I) vs. LePage?(R)
MI: Stabenow(D) vs. Bouchard?(R)
MN: Klobuchar(D) vs. Paulsen?(R)
MO: McCaskill(D) vs. Kinder?(R)
MS: Wicker(R) vs. McDaniel?(R)
MT: Tester(D) vs. Racicot?(R)
ND: Heitkamp(D) vs. Becker?(R)
NE: Fischer(R) ; no opponent yet
NJ: Menendez(D) vs. Chiesa(R) vs. Codey?(D) vs. Chiesa?(R)
NM: Heinrich(D) vs. Sanchez(R)
NV: Heller(R) vs. Sandoval?(R)
NY: Gillibrand(D) vs. Kennedy?(D)
OH: Brown(D) vs. Mandel(R)
PA: Casey(D) vs. Saccone(R)
RI: Whitehouse(D) ; no opponent yet
TN: Corker(R) vs. Crim(I)
TX: Cruz(R) vs. Bush?(R)
UT: Hatch(R) vs. McMullin?(R) vs. Romney?(R)
VT: Sanders(I) vs. Giordano(D)
VA: Kaine(D) vs. Cuccinelli?(R) vs. Fiorina?(R)
WA: Cantwell(D) ; no opponent yet
WV: Manchin(D) vs. Raese(R) vs. Goodwin?(R)
WI: Baldwin(D) vs. Grothman?(R) vs. Gallagher?(R)
WY: Barrasso(R) ; no opponent yet
Senate Votes (analysis)