Frist, Edwards Discuss 2002 Health Care Agenda
In the current issue of Roll Call, Sens. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) write about the congressional health care agenda for 2002. A summary of their commentary appears below.
- Edwards: According to Edwards, lawmakers in 2002 should address legislation to help uninsured Americans. He said that Congress should pass legislation to ensure that certain unemployed workers "don't also lose access to affordable, quality health care," provide Transitional Medicaid Assistance to welfare recipients who return to the workforce and expand CHIP to cover parents. Edwards, a co-sponsor of the patients' rights bill (S 283) favored by Democrats, added that lawmakers should "redouble" efforts to reach agreement on a bill that would provide "strong patient protections" and "give Americans relief from HMO and insurer abuse." He also said that Congress should pass a prescription drug benefit under Medicare, double the NIH budget for medical research and improve health care for veterans (Edwards, Roll Call, 12/10).
- Frist: Frist said that lawmakers in 2002 should "begin taking steps" to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. He added, however, that lawmakers also must reform the program to allow seniors to select from a number of public and private insurance plans and "put Medicare on a more secure financial footing." Frist also said that lawmakers should pass legislation to expand medical savings accounts and provide refundable tax credits to help low-income individuals and families purchase health insurance. In addition, he said that Congress should pass a "responsible" patients' rights bill (HR 2563) based on the compromise between President Bush and Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) that passed in the House in August (Frist, Roll Call, 12/10).
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