Sen. Bob Corker, who has dealt with the issue of health insurance as a businessman, as mayor of Chattanooga and as Tennessee's Commissioner of Finance and Administration, will hold a roundtable on health care at the Erlanger Baroness Campus of Erlanger Health System on Wednesday.
Corker officials said the session will be "to hear from those who are on the frontlines of the issue as he works in the Senate to reform the country’s health care system."
Mayor Ron Littlefield and County Mayor Claude Ramsey will also take part.
“Health care is one of the most serious issues facing our country. Millions of Americans, including 800,000 Tennesseans, lack adequate health insurance,” said Corker. “Beyond the chaos this causes our health care system and our nation's economy, the human and emotional toll is enormous. I visited each of our state's 95 counties during my first nine months in office, and from one end of Tennessee to the other, I have heard personal accounts from hard-working Tennesseans who live in a state of fear because their families are unable to afford ample coverage.
“The health care crisis also affects those of us who are fortunate enough to have coverage. Americans don’t lack health CARE, they lack health INSURANCE. Those without health insurance often resort to seeking care in emergency rooms, resulting in extremely high bills that sometimes go unpaid. This mounting volume of uncompensated care results in cost-shifting to those that have private coverage.
"By enabling all Americans to own a policy, cost-shifting would be dramatically reduced and the newly covered as well as those already covered would benefit through lower premiums, lower out-of-pocket expenses, and higher wages.
“I am committed to working toward health care reform that ensures all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance that is deeply rooted in the private market and does not add to the federal deficit. The only way this change can happen is by both sides coming together - Republicans and Democrats alike - and I have a strong hope that this time has finally come.”
Sen. Corker is a co-sponsor of two bills, The Every American Insured Act (S.1886) and the Healthy Americans Act (S. 334), that would allow all Americans to purchase their own private health care coverage.
The Every American Insured Health Act (S.1886), co-authored by Sen. Corker and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), would provide every American a tax credit – cash in hand ($2,160 for individuals; $5,400 for families) – to purchase health insurance. These tax credits would be advanceable and refundable, so low-income families would have the money to make timed, monthly payments and would receive the full value of the tax credit, regardless of the amount of taxes they owe the government.
The Every American Insured Health Act would also provide states with flexible incentives to reform health insurance markets to ensure that affordable, high-quality health insurance is available. This proposal is revenue neutral, so it does not increase the deficit. Rather, it would make the tax code treat all Americans equally when it comes to buying health insurance, regardless if they purchase it through their employer or in the private market, officials said.
The Healthy Americans Act (S.334) – introduced by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and cosponsored by seven Democrats and seven Republicans – empowers Americans to choose their own affordable, portable health insurance policy from the private market, it was stated.
Sen. Corker said the legislation provides tax incentives to Americans to purchase health insurance, encourages states to reform medical liability laws, and strengthens the focus on wellness and preventative care rather than insuring people only when they are sick.
He said a recent report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (Joint Tax) "found that the bipartisan Healthy Americans Act would be roughly budget neutral in 2014 and that implementation of the act would actually create surpluses after that year."