Idaho's Members of Congress Turning Blind Eye to State's Health Care Woes

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 General News J E 4

High Costs Leave 15% of Idaho Uninsured, State Retirees Forced from Health Plans, Rising Jobless Rate Leaves Thousands without Benefits

BOISE, Idaho, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the debate over health care reform is expected to pick up in the Senate after Thanksgiving, notices of health care premium increases are hitting mailboxes across Idaho -- leaving many families wondering how they'll be able to afford the hikes.  While high health care costs have left nearly 15% of Idaho without insurance, as benefits run out for the state's 67,300 jobless residents that number will jump in the coming months.

Add into the mix the thousands of state retirees set to lose their state health insurance as they are forced onto Medicare and it is a situation that is hard, if not impossible to ignore.  That's exactly what AARP says Idaho's members of Congress are doing by not moving health care reform forward.    

"High insurance premiums, people struggling to afford health care and having to go without it - these are the issues landing on kitchen tables across Idaho," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "It's time for Idaho's members of Congress to pay attention to the health care crisis brewing at home and support real health care reform that will deliver relief to Idahoans."

While the House passed the AARP-backed Affordable Health Care for America Act, without the support of Representatives Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson, the Senate recently voted to bring its version of health care reform legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to a vote sometime after Thanksgiving, a move that occurred minus the support of Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

"The health care scenario for hundreds of thousands of Idaho residents and businesses across the state will only grow worse without real reforms now," added Wordelman.  "We are counting on Senators Crapo and Risch and Representatives Minnick and Simpson to help deliver a final health care reform bill that works for America and Idaho."      

AARP is working with both parties to ensure health care reform tackle several critical issues including: protecting Medicare benefits; closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole" (which 27% of Idahoans on the program fell into); ensuring nothing comes between a patient and their doctor; stopping insurance companies from raising premiums due to age and denying care to people with pre-existing conductions; and helping people have more affordable access to health care.

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