Campaigning for Vermont's U.S. House seat I have heard a great deal about how the high cost of health care is hurting Vermonters.

Congress must do more to increase access to affordable, quality health insurance and we must work to control the costs in our health care system. I have proposed several common sense interim steps - including expanding and encouraging health savings accounts, allowing individuals and businesses to buy insurance across state lines and over the internet and expanding tax credits to help small businesses provide coverage for their employees.

Congress must also act to reform the nation's medical malpractice system. While my opponent does not support meaningful malpractice reform, I have heard from Vermont doctors how frivolous claims and unjustified settlements are driving physicians out of the state and forcing others to limit the procedures they're willing to perform. Malpractice insurance routinely eats up between 10 and 25 percent of a physician's income. Furthermore, defensive medicine - doctors performing tests and prescribing medications just out of fear of a malpractice claim - has been estimated at 10 percent of the cost of health care today. This must change.

We must also do more to lower the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans. I was disappointed that my opponent would have voted against Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Although Congress' work on affordable prescription drugs is far from complete, the thousands of seniors and disabled Americans who had no prescription drug coverage before Medicare Part D could not afford to wait for a perfect solution. Seniors are saving an average of $1,100 each on their prescription drugs and nearly 10 million low-income seniors are now receiving prescription drug coverage at little or no cost. According to a recent J.D. Power and Associates poll, about 75 percent of seniors rated the program 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.

In November Vermonters will have a clear decision: a candidate who will work across party lines and take common sense interim steps while working on the overall reforms that are needed or my opponent who is tied to a partisan agenda that pits Republicans against Democrats to the detriment of all Americans.