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Lowering health care costs

The cost of health care in the United States has exploded, placing high quality, accessible care outside the reach of too many of our citizens. Last year, 47 million Americans at some point went without health insurance. As a result, preventable and chronic illnesses increase across the board, often causing unnecessary emotional and physical pain, not to mention the resulting financial stress. Today, the average yearly premium for private insurance costs $12,106 for a family of four. Premiums have increased 7.7 percent since 2006 and have exceeded the rate of wage gains and the buying power of the dollar. At the outset, I think we can all agree that the current health care system is flawed and outdated. Almost 60 percent of Americans receive insurance through their jobs, primarily because of the advantages available to employers and employees under our nations tax code. But we must not allow those who dont have access to this benefit to fall through the cracks. We must find a way to make medical care more affordable for those who do not receive health insurance through their workplace and do not qualify for available public programs. This is why I have recently introduced three pieces of legislation to help reduce the number of uninsured Americans. H.R. 3515, the Health Insurance Tax Relief Act of 2007 and H.R. 3516, the Affordable Health Care for Americans Act are designed to greatly diminish the cost of private insurance by lessening the tax burden. My legislation would allow individuals a refundable tax credit for the purchase of private insurance and to take an above the line deduction for all health insurance premiums paid during the tax year. These provisions would provide accessibility to quality health care to tens of millions of Americans, including many whose income levels currently exempt them from any income tax payments Additionally, long-term care insurance has become a necessity as the American life expectancy increases. Unfortunately, the cost of this coverage is prohibitive to many Americans. The third piece of my health care legislation, H.R. 3517, the Long-Term Care Tax Reduction Act of 2007, would address these issues by allowing individuals to use their retirement plans to purchase long-term insurance using pre-tax dollars with no penalty. I am deeply concerned with finding ways to make health insurance affordable for all Americans. I will work vigorously with my colleagues in Washington to deliver common sense solutions like these that would increase access to care while minimizing the cost. Congressman John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, represents the 23rd District of New York.

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