This Week: Health Care, Credit Card Reforms, Unemployment, Save the Date!
Health Care for America Act, I wanted to share the latest information on the
bill. The final vote on the bill could come as early as 6 p.m. on Saturday
night – there is also a slight chance that we may be voting on this measure
Passage of this bill will directly
affect our district. It will ensure that:
• 72,000 uninsured people
will finally get health insurance.
• 316,000 people will see their
employer-based coverage improve.
• 170,000 households will get tax credits
to help pay for their insurance.
• Medicare benefits will improve for
78,000 seniors, and the Part D “donut hole” will be closed for 4,800
• 4,300 families will avoid bankruptcy as a result of
• 14,400 small businesses will be able to obtain coverage
and up to 11,700 more will get tax credits to provide more affordable insurance
to their workers.
• Finally, the bill will reduce the amount of
uncompensated care provided by our hospitals and health centers – last year,
more than $188 million was spent taking care of the under- and uninsured.
H.R 3692 contains significant protections that guarantee greater
stability, lower costs and higher quality insurance and health care. These
• Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions, such as
diabetes, a heart condition, or cancer.
• No dropping of coverage because
a patient becomes “too sick.”
• No co-pays for preventive and wellness
• Annual caps on what you pay out-of-pocket ($5,000/individual and
• No yearly or lifetime cost caps on what insurance
The bill also has a significant emphasis on
innovation, wellness, and prevention. I was pleased Speaker Pelosi recognized
the importance of addressing the problem of infant mortality in our community
and nationwide by including my infant mortality measure,
the NEWBORN Act, in the final bill. Memphis has the highest infant
mortality rate in the country – and is worse than some Third World countries.
We must do more to make sure that women have access to wellness and
education programs so they can deliver healthy babies – and this has to include
recruiting the best and brightest medical students to be inner city doctors.
The NEWBORN Act will lay the foundation for that effort.
H.R 3692 builds on our commitment to children’s health care by requiring that
public plans available as part of the exchange include well-baby and well-child
care; oral health, vision, and hearing services, equipment, and supplies;
maternity care; and mental health and substance use disorder services, including
behavioral health treatments.
I’ve heard from a number of constituents that one
of the biggest obstacles to getting out of debt is the high interest rates on
their credit cards. In recent weeks, many consumers, including myself, have
received notices that our interest rates are going up. I believe this is
because the “window of opportunity” is fast closing for credit card companies to
make as much money as they can from consumer before the playing field is
Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to move up the
start date for a number of reforms aimed at curbing
the worst practices of credit card companies – including unfair interest
rate hikes on existing balances, double-cycle billing and due-date gimmicks.
The Senate must still act on this bill. The changes will go into effect as soon
as President Obama signs it into law.
Unemployment and Homebuyer Tax Credit
On Thursday, I voted to extend unemployment
benefits for an additional 20 weeks for those in our community whose benefits
have run out, or will run out by the end of the year. This timely and temporary
extension will provide a much needed financial safety net for those who are
looking for a new job.
Additionally, this same bill also included an
extension of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit through April 30, 2010
and provides a $6,500 credit to new purchasers who have lived in their current
residence for five years or more. It also helps military families struggling to
make mortgage payments by making those payments tax-exempt. This bill also
allows U.S. companies to carry back losses incurred in either 2008 or 2009
against income earned in any of the five prior years.
President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law today.
Save the Date – Town Hall Meeting November
Next Saturday, November 14, I’ll be holding a town
hall meeting at The Links at Whitehaven from 10:00 A.M to Noon to discuss
federal funding for the Ninth District. I hope you’ll join me. If you have
questions or would like to know more about the event, please contact my office
at (901) 544-4131.