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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


8,321 subscribers

November 18, 2013

This week we report on three bills that all have great titles – yet I voted against them. Before getting into the bill details, I wanted to emphasize that bill titles are made up by the authors. They are not a neutral statement of fact. So, if I wanted to file a bill that makes it government policy to prohibit all twelve year-olds from attending school, I could name that bill the “Every Child Deserves a Home Act”. So please, don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a bill by its title.

Health Care

On Friday the House considered H.R. 3350, the Keep Your Health Plan Act. This bill is a response to reports that many Americans have received cancellation notices from their insurance companies. The cancelled policies do not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as, for example, requiring coverage for basic preventive medicine, mammograms and other cancer screenings. As I am sure you are aware, during debate over health care reform, the President promised that people who liked their health care could keep it. As we now know, that is not the case. H.R. 3350, however, is not the solution to this problem.

Yesterday the President announced that those who received cancellation notices could keep their current plans for one additional year. Please note that insurance companies have never been and cannot now be compelled to re-issue policies, although the President has urged them to do so. A few years ago, my own health insurance policy was cancelled because of a dispute between my employer and the company. I had to switch plans.

The President can require insurers to inform customers about the services that their current plans do not cover, and how they can explore other options through the Marketplaces that will be more comprehensive and possibly more cost effective. I appreciate this step, which I think is necessary in order to honor the commitments made during the health care debate.

I could not support H.R. 3350 because it does much more than just allow people to keep their current plans. It allows insurance companies to continue offering substandard plans to existing enrollees and also sell them to new enrollees. This means plans will once again be offered that do not include coverage for pre-existing conditions and place limits on annual coverage amounts. Under H.R. 3350, insurers would be under no obligation to inform consumers that there might be better plans available on exchanges, plans that in some cases might be offered by the very same insurer. I voted NO. H.R. 3350 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

222

4

0

4

DEMOCRAT

39

153

0

8

TOTAL

261

157

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

7

0

1

Asbestos

Last week the House also considered H.R. 982, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013. In 1994, Congress passed legislation giving asbestos companies the ability to establish trusts for compensating asbestos victims. This allowed many of the companies to avoid bankruptcy and many are still operating today. H.R. 982 places additional burdens on asbestos victims, making it more difficult to access funds. It creates a public database of personal information such as medical and work history that anyone can access. This makes those who are seeking compensation through the trusts vulnerable to identity fraud. This bill also delays needed financial resources because it allows companies to request information from the trusts any time they want on asbestos victims, creating additional work and taking resources away from processing claims. People who suffer from asbestos related cancers should not have to wait even longer for compensation. I voted NO. H.R. 982 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

216

7

0

7

DEMOCRAT

5

192

0

3

TOTAL

221

199

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

Lawsuits

The House also considered H.R. 2655, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. This legislation takes away judges’ discretion when it comes to imposing sanctions for frivolous lawsuits. It is opposed by organizations such as the American Bar Association and the Judicial Conference of the United States. I voted NO. H.R. 2655 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

225

2

0

3

DEMOCRAT

3

193

0

4

TOTAL

228

195

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

What’s Up This Week

Votes are expected on Monday November 18th. The House is scheduled to consider several bills, including H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Ethics
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


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