We are currently facing a health care crisis in this country where a large percentage of Americans do not have access to affordable, quality health care. Senator Wyden (D-Ore.) and I believe this problem cannot wait another year, and certainly cannot wait until the next election. That’s why we are sponsoring the Healthy Americans Act—a proposal to create a universal, market-driven health-care system that all Americans can afford. Earlier this week, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on the Healthy Americans Act, the first hearing on comprehensive health care reform since June 22, 1994. Both Democrats and Republicans were responsive – Chairman Conrad (D-N.D.) said the legislation has “got the basic structure right,

I believe the following five tenets of reform must be implemented to deliver quality, private health care to the American people — tax reform, portability, individual access, healthy behavior, and market forces. These tenets will empower Americans to choose a plan that is right for them, and one they can keep, regardless of where they work. Our legislation will sever the health insurance link between employers and employees, letting individuals make their own decisions on how they use their health care dollars to shop for low cost, high quality plans provided by the market. We will also provide incentives for healthy behavior, which will help drive down the prices because it costs less to care for healthy people than those who do not take care of themselves.

The Healthy Americans Act embraces these principles so health care can be affordable, the uninsured can be covered, and our economy can be strengthened.