Dianne Feinstein on Health Care

Last Updated : Sep 21, 2012

Summary

Senator Feinstein has supported most of the major pieces of the health care related legislation since she has been in office. This includes Medicare Part D, SCHIP, and the Affordable Care Act. She has sponsored means testing legislation to help make Medicare solvent. She has also strongly supported allowing the government to negotiate the prices of drugs in Medicare. She has supported the public option for health care, and since the passing of the health care reform she has led efforts to allow the government to reject insurance premium hikes.

Medicare Part D

Senator Feinstein voted in favor of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act that created Part D of Medicare. Two years later, she stated that she believed that the cost of the bill was $400 billion, but that recent estimates showed that it will exceed $720 billion over the next 10 years. She stated that this information was withheld from Congress.

Means Testing Premium

In 2003, Senator Feinstien offered an amendment that would have raised the premium for Medicare Part B depending on the income of the person receiving benefits. The legislation created a three tier system by income with those making more than $100,000 a year paying responsble for 50% of their part B premium, those making more than $150,000 responsible for 75% of their premium, and those making more than $200,000 would be responsible for 100% of theri premium. She noted that only 2% of people on Medicare would be affected by these changes in payments.

Price Negotiation

Senator Feinstein has long supported allowing Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate drug prices. In 2004, she introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Reduction Act. This legislation would have removed language in the Medicare Part D plan that prohibited the Secretary of Health and Human Services from interfering in price negotiations between the drug companies and Medicare, effectively allowing them to bargain for a better price. The next session, Senator Feinstein introduced similar legislation.

SCHIP

In 2007, Senator Feinstein responded to President Bush's veto of the SCHIP legislation by stating that the President has closed his eyes to the needs of almost four million children in desperate need of health insurance. She voted in favor of the bill again in 2009.

What Should be in Health Care Reform

In the summer of 2009, Senator Feinstein released statements and gave floor speeches noting what she hoped to see in health care reform. Three of the main points were Allow people to keep their current healthcare coverage, stopping certain practices of insurance companies such as exclusion based on preexisting conditions, and controlling insurance premiums. She also added that health care reform must not induce a new burden onto states and counties, it must contain costs, and it must protect public hospitals. She also asserted that reform should expand healthcare coverage, make prescription drugs more affordable for public hospitals and clinics, include tort reform, and should not address end of life care.

The Reform Process

Throughout the health care reform process, Senator Feinstein issued statements noting her views on what should and shouldn't be done. She stated that she found no rationale for the medical insurance industry to be the large profit center and that the medical insurance industry should not be like Wall Street. She also stated that individual states should not be able to regulate the insurance industry and one set of rules should be in place across the nation to allow people to pool across state lines, and that premiums should be regulated. In one statement, she also noted that the US was the only nation that used a for-profit health care system.

Support for the Reform Plan

Late in 2009, Senator Feinstein noted her support for the plan based on three principles. The first principle was that the bill was incremental, easing in a lot of the provisions instead of changing them overnight. The second was that the legislation changed the insurance industry, including stopping discrimination based on gender, preventing taking away coverage once a person gets sick, and preventing them from charging more or denying coverage based on an individual’s health history or preexisting conditions. Finally, she stated that the plan was fiscally responsible. These views were expressed in floor speeches and statements throughout the process of the legislation passing through Congress.

Public Option

In 2009, Senator Feinstein signed onto a letter that was sent to the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The letter urged him to include a public option in the final form of health care reform legislation. It stated that the health insurance market is dominated by a handful of for-profit health insurers and without a not-for-profit public insurance alternative, insurers will have free rein to increase insurance premiums and drive up the cost of federal subsidies tied to those premiums. The letter states that this is simply not fiscally sustainable.

Rate Review Act

In both sessions of Congress after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Senator Feinstein introduced the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2011. The Affordable Care Act gave the governornment the authority to investigate health insurance rate increases, but no authority to act on it. The legislation proposed by Senator Feinstien in 2010 would give the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to deny or modify premium or rate increases that are found to be excessive, unjustified, or unfairly discriminatory. In 2011, she supported similar legislation in the state legislature to grant the state law makers the right to reject certain rate increases.

 

Means Testing in Medicare

In June of 2003, Senator Feinstein spoke on the floor in support of legislation to means test Medicare Part B with a sliding scale, requiring higher payments for those making more money.

 

Prescription Drug Price Act

In January of 2004, Senator Feinstein issued a press statement noting her support for the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Reduction Act. The bill removed language preventing the Secreatery of Health and Human Services from using the bulk buying power of the government to negotiate drug prices.

 

Medicare Purchasing Powers

On November 3, 2005 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of an amendment to allow the Health and Human Services Secretary to use bulk purchasing powers with Medicare Part D.

 

Online Pharmaceutical Act

In August of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing to make it illegal to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs via the internet without a prescription.

 

SCHIP

In October of 2007, Senator Feinstein released a statement noting her disappointment at President Bush's decision to veto the State Children's Health Insurance Program and her intention to vote to override the veto.

 

What I Support in Health Care Reform

In August of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her opinions on health care reform. Among these feelings is the belief that insurance companies are behaving improperly and a public option needs to be included in reform.

 

Support for the Public Option

In October of 2009, Senator Feinstein signed onto a letter with several other Senators that was sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid calling for the inclusion of the public option in health care reform.

 

Current Thoughts

In early October of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her present thoughts on health care reform and included the salaries of executives. In late October, Senator Feinstein released another statement noting her support for a public option and it's inclusion in reconciliation if necessary to achieve that goal. She signed onto a letter with numerous other Senators asking the Senate Majority Leader to include the option.

 

Current Thoughts

Towards the end of October, Senator Feinstein released another statement noting her thoughts on health care reform and her opinion that a public option should be included.

 

Floor Speech in Support of Bill

On December 23, 2009 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor noting her intention to support the health care reform legislation.

 

Floor Speech on Passage

On December 24, 2009 Senator Feinstien spoke on the Senate floor noting her vote in favor of the health care reform package and the passage of that legislation.

 

Statement on Passage

In December of 2009, Senator Feinstein responded to the passage of the health care reform legislation. She applauded the passage of the legislation.

In March of 2010, Senator Feinstein released another press statement noting the final passage of the legislation with the reconciliation bill.

 

 

Support for Reconciliation

In March of 2010, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for the reconciliation process.

 

Insurance Premiums

In February of 2010, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing to prevent insurance companies from raising premiums.

 

Hailing the Reform Act

In March of 2010 Senator Feinstein issued a press statement noting the success of the health care reform legislation.

Rate Review Act

In January of 2011 Senator Feinstein issued a statement noting her support for the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2011.

 

Rate Review Act

In June of 2011, Senator Feinstein issued a press statement noting her support for the Health Insurance Rate Review Act. This legislation would allow California to reject health insurance rate hikes.

 

Reaction to Supreme Court Ruling

In June of 2012, Senator Feisntein reacted to the Supreme Court ruling by issuing a statement in which she noted her support for the health care mandate and the reform law overall.

 

Official Website Statements 

 

 

Voting Record

Repeal of Health Care Reform

In February of 2011, the Senate voted on repealing the 2009-2010 health care reform legislation. The attempt failed on a party line vote . Dianne Feinstein voted against repealing the health care reform legislation.

Dianne Feinstein voted against repealing the health care reform legislation.

2009-2010 Health Care Reform - Reconciliation

The 2009-2010 health care reform legislation passed through the Senate in three votes. The first was to end the filibuster, the second was to pass the Senate bill, and the third was to pass the reconciliation bill.

Due to the death of Senator Kennedy and the election of Senator Brown in Massachussetts, the Democrats no longer possessed the 60 vote majority to break a filibuster. A reconciliation bill was passed to unify the Senate and House version and to enact the legislation. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of passage of the reconciliation bill.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of passage of the reconciliation bill.

2009-2010 Health Care Reform - Passage

After the cloture vote to end the filibuster, a vote was taken to pass the legislation called "Obamacare" by its opponents. Dianne Feinstein in favor of final passage of the legislation.

Dianne Feinstein in favor of final passage of the legislation.

2009-2010 Health Care Reform - Cloture Vote

The first vote in the health care reform process was for cloture on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009. This bill was different from the version that had recently passed through the House. Both votes went down party lines with all Democrats supporting the legislation and all Republicans opposing it. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the reform by voting for cloture.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the reform by voting for cloture.

SCHIP

In addition to attempting overall health care reform, congress re-authorized SCHIP in 2009. SCHIP is a program to provide children with health care and fund it through tobacco taxes. The program passed with the full support of Democrats and roughly 1/4 of the Republicans. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of SCHIP.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of SCHIP.

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act sets up health requirements for tobacco products, sets labeling guidelines, requires tobacco companies to report the content of their products, and prescribes punishements for violating any rules. The measure passed the Senate 79-17. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Amendment - Drug Reimportation

In July of 2006, a an amendment was voted on to prohibit the United States Customs and Border Protection from preventing an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from importing an FDA-approved prescription drug. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to prevent border patrol agents from taking prescription drugs from citizens crossing the border.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to prevent border patrol agents from taking prescription drugs from citizens crossing the border.

Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 is sometimes called Medicare Part D. It was a sweeping reform that created plans for the senior citizens to purchase prescription drugs. The bill passed the Senate 54-44 Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of Medicare Part D.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of Medicare Part D.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-111; Bill Number-S 677; Reforming an Entitlement through Premium Adjustments based on Income Resources (REPAIR) Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Amends part D (Voluntary Prescription Drug Benefit Program) of title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to require an income-related reduction in the part D premium subsidy. Declares that, in the case of an individual whose modified adjusted gross income exceeds a certain applicable threshold amount for a month after December 2009, the monthly amount of the part D premium subsidy shall be reduced (and the monthly beneficiary premium shall be increased) by the monthly adjustment amount determined according to a specified formula.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 1681; Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Declares that nothing in the McCarran-Ferguson Act shall be construed to permit health insurance issuers or issuers of medical malpractice insurance to engage in any form of price fixing, bid rigging, or market allocations in connection with providing health insurance coverage or coverage for medical malpractice claims or actions. Makes this Act nonapplicable to any information gathering and rate setting activities of any state commission of insurance or any other state regulatory entity with authority to set insurance rates.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 677; Reforming an Entitlement through Premium Adjustments based on Income Resources (REPAIR) Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Amends part D (Voluntary Prescription Drug Benefit Program) of title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to require an income-related reduction in the part D premium subsidy. Declares that, in the case of an individual whose modified adjusted gross income exceeds a certain applicable threshold amount for a month after December 2009, the monthly amount of the part D premium subsidy shall be reduced (and the monthly beneficiary premium shall be increased) by the monthly adjustment amount determined according to a specified formula.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 242; Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007 - Cosponsor

A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the importation of prescription drugs, and for other purposes.

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