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Health Care

We in the United States are lucky to have the most advanced health care services in the world - our medicines, treatments, and specialists are second to none. But despite the blessing of these medical discoveries, Pennsylvanians are less satisfied with their health care than ever before. Over the past decade, access to quality, timely health care has come to depend more on your bank account than on your need. My wife Pam has worked as a nurse for more than two decades, and has seen firsthand the problems with today's health care system: the uninsured seeking primary care in emergency rooms, doctors forced to call a HMO for approval of a procedure in the middle of an operation, patients forced out of the hospital too soon after major surgery.

Patients' Bill of Rights
The time to end the reckless and insensitive practices of health insurance companies has come. I support a strong and thorough Patient's Bill of Rights that will allow patients to hold insurers accountable for negligence in a court of law. I also believe that doctors, not HMOs, should determine what is "medically necessary" for their patients. For too long, health insurers have denied coverage of procedures based on their own bottom line, not the best interest of the patient. I believe that the federal government must do what it can to put patients back in control of their health care.

Uninsured Pennsylvanians
While the problems within the health insurance industry are serious, the problem of the uninsured is even more troubling. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates in the country of uninsured citizens. And we are not alone. Nearly 45 million Americans do not have health insurance. The implications of this are far reaching - lack of preventive care increases the likelihood of serious illness later on. Even a minor accident, like a broken arm, can cause major financial difficulties for a working family without health insurance, and a major disease can be financially devastating. Solving the problem of the uninsured will be one of the great challenges of this new decade. I support increasing access to insurance both through tax credits to small businesses to offer health care to their employees and through tax credits to employees to help them to purchase insurance if their employer does not offer it. I also believe that the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) should be expanded to include parents of children living in poverty.

Quality Treatment
We must also remember that the issue of health care involves not only insurance, but also the quality of the actual treatment. I am deeply convinced that funding for research into diseases like breast and prostate cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and diabetes must be increased. Many Pennsylvanians are desperately awaiting a cure or improved treatment for these and other illnesses, and the breakthroughs for so many diseases may be just around the corner. We must build on our commitment to improving not only the quality of health insurance, but of all aspects of health care.