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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Improving Health Care For Patients

August 5, 2016
Bilirakis Blog

Many local patients and families have discussed their health care struggles with me. Too many individuals, families, and businesses in our state are facing high premiums and deductible costs under the administration’s health care law. (Just this week we’ve learned Aetna will no longer be insuring Floridians further confounding folks who need health coverage). That is why I am working to give control back to patients. We must get back to a health care system that values the patient as an individual and gives patients the choice so you can pick the plan that meets their needs.

I am working to not only lower costs, but to make our health care system work for every American, and to encourage innovation, research, and investment to bring better, faster cures and treatments to all patients.

 

We must give patients more affordable choices….

We must provide more choices and lower costs. Every patient is different and every patient should be empowered to make their own health care decisions. By removing the federal mandates on employers, insurers, and consumers, we can give patients a choice and access to direct assistance. Employers will no longer have the burden of financial disincentives, and costs will as a result, be brought down in a competitive market. I co-sponsored the Lower Drug Costs through Competition Act, a bill to help bring generic drugs to market faster, lowering the overall cost of drugs. I am also a proud co-sponsor of the Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act, which will remove barriers and ultimately provide better Medicare coverage for new FDA approved devices. These bills will help patients gain access to new cures and treatments, and make them more affordable.

We must give patients and employees peace of mind…

We must make sure all patients have access to the health care they need regardless of age, income, medical conditions, etc. I am working to ensure no American is turned away or loses coverage due to circumstances beyond their control. One important bill I recently introduced, the Expanding Seniors Receiving Dialysis’ Choice Act, or ESRD Choice Act, will remove restrictions preventing ESRD patients from receiving the care they need. There are more than 640,000 Americans living with kidney failure, known as End Stage Renal Disease, or ESRD. The overwhelming majority of people with kidney failure, regardless of their age, rely on Medicare for their life sustaining dialysis treatments. However, patients with a pre-existing condition of ESRD are currently denied the ability to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. With this legislation, we can give ESRD patients access to the care they need, and empower patients to make their own health care decisions.

Congress also passed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, which allows businesses with 51-100 employees to be defined as large businesses rather than small business. This would help ensure that insurance premiums for these businesses do not skyrocket, allowing the businesses to keep health care affordable.

We must encourage innovation and accelerate cures…

In addition to keeping costs down and cutting back on federal mandates, we must also cut regulations to accelerate the development of cures and treatments. The process of finding and delivering cures is much too slow due to regulations and outdated processes. I worked with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to review the full process – from the discovery of clues in basic science, to streamlining the drug and device development process, to unleashing the power of digital medicine and social media at the treatment delivery phase. Our 21st Century Cures Act will update and reform our health care system to accelerate the pace of cures in our nation. This bill, which passed the House last year, encourages research and new drug development, modernizes clinical trials, promotes personalized medicine, and removes barriers in the process of developing cures and treatments for patients who need it most.

We must strengthen Medicare…

I am also working to protect our seniors and make Medicare work better for our current beneficiaries and for future generations. I helped lead the charge to reform Medicare and repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula within Medicare. This flawed formula would potentially cut physician payments by 21% this year, forcing doctors to exit Medicare, and creating an access crisis for Seniors. Congress permanently repealed and replaced the formula. Now Medicare will pay doctors based on quality, incentivizing physicians to be as efficient and effective as possible in keeping their patients healthy. Healthier people utilize less health care services, which means lower costs.

All Americans deserve affordable, quality health care, and a system that works efficiently. By removing federal barriers and empowering patients, we can ensure a happier, healthier America today and into the future!

To read this post on Medium, click here