Saturday, October 24, 2009

Second question: from the audience

Jeremiah Supple: Thank you Senator for coming. Thank you for addressing the people outside. Government option: Run through reconciliation. Government spending has gone from 50 percent to 44 percent of GDP. It will go over 50 percent of GDP with public option. Reconciliation. Will you support reconciliation?

Landrieu: Inclined not to vote for reconciliation. Believe 60 votes to vote for cloture. Still working to try to get Republicans to join. Level of the deficit is a concern for all. President Bush came in with a surplus from President Clinton. The Bush years, Congress drove surplus into a deep deficit. If we don't do something to control healthcare costs for government and individuals (16 percent of GDP — twice as much as any other country), so we need to change the system.

Generally, not supportive of the public option. I want to reform the private insurance markets. Give people more choice, lower premiums. That's what I'm generally supporting.

Rolfes: what's in the plans? How best learn what is in it? Is the bill posted?

Senator: all the bills are posted for anyone to read. Yes, there are long and difficult, but it is a complicated issue. Qualifications in various plans. Big companies, small companies. Not defending the complexity, but it is a complex process. Like to hear what the doctors have to say.

Robichaux: Having served in the state Legislature, I know how complicated the bills can be. No one can learn all the aspects of the bill, and it changes as it moves through committees. Things change minute to minute. Don't known how to keep up with it. Five different bills, each different.

Landrieu: I have read the bills in the Senate, the bills are out there on the Internet. There are summaries from various organizations.

Prudhomme: American Nursing Associations has taken look at the bills side-by-side. Cost effective care is the key. The association is looking at all elements. They are accurately calling it insurance reform. Does a great job of putting decisions.

Adam Mouton, Question 2: Prescription drug issue. Could save millions of dollars by changing the way they price their drugs. $130 for celebrex; cost to produce $.60. High profits. The reason Canadian drugs are cheaper than ours is that the government has gotten involved to control prices. Is there anything in these bills to lower the cost of drugs? Since we have the best, why are we trying to fix it all instead of what's broken?

Senator Landrieu: the general idea is to use generics and to negotiate with the drug companies. Also the issue of how long patents last. You are right. We can support reasonable profits for drug companies, but we want them to operate on a level playing field.

Parts of our system are the best, but just because we are spending more does not mean we are getting the best outcomes. Louisiana has high death rates from chronic disease. Way to judge is the outcome. Other countries doing better.

I am for our public/private system. But it is costing too much and it is not delivering the outcomes. That is part of the reform role.

Question: Loss of jobs means loss of health coverage. How will cover them if they can't afford COBRA?

Robichaux: Louisiana has 27 percent uninsured. We have 44,000 people who die because they lack adequate healthcare and adequate access to care. This is a major problem in this country. Bankruptcies are unbelievable. 60 percent linked to healthcare expenses. 1.5 million families lose their homes to foreclosure due to healthcare costs. I don't know exactly how they will impact. We are the only highly industrialized country in the world that does not have some kind of subsidized healthcare program. We need to move past this. We are a better country than this.

Senator Landrieu: Almost every version of this bill, reform of insurance markets is included. Cannot be denied due to pre-existing condition and can't be dropped when adverse diagnosis. Also working to bring equity to rates charged to men and women. 60 percent of the uninsured are working. Small businesses can't afford the coverage. But we want to make sure that those who are working have decent choices in the market.

Prudhomme: Stop pre-existing condition exclusion. People call me about this all the time. People with COBRA can't continue that for long because of costs. What we are asking for in any bill that goes forward, we need to stop this business of exhorbitant amount of copays and deductibles. Preventive care needs to be included so that they can have quality care. This is what we are fighting for. We need to stop what is going on now.

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