Olympia Snowe on Health Care
Senator Snowe has called for numerous reforms to the health insurance and health care industry in the last decade. Since 2004, she has supported Association health plans to allow small businesses to pool into larger Associated Health Plans. She introduced the Small Business Health Act to allow this to happen and stated that AHPs provide greater affordability and flexibility for businesses to provide their employees to access to coverage through market competition – all at nominal costs for the federal government.
Senator Snowe has also advocated for allowing the US to reimport drugs into the country, and to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. In 2004, she called for allowing the states themselves waivers from the rules that prevent them from purchasing drugs from outside the country. In 2006, she stated that the matter was a federal issue and the fact is we can import prescription drugs in a manner that protects their safety and security for the American people.
Among the numerous health care reform items proposed or supported by Senator Snowe from 2004-2010 are:
- Allowing small businesses and the self-employed to band together across state lines and spread the risk over a large number of participants in order to obtain lower premiums.
- Providing tax credits for small business owners and the self-employed to offset contributions to employee premiums.
- Banning health status rating in order to protect small businesses and the self-employed from large rate increases simply because one employee gets sick.
- Reforming the class action lawsuit process
One of the pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Snowe was the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)
- SHOP will provide small business owners with an annual tax credit of up to $1,000 per employee ($2,000 for family coverage) if they pay for 60% of their employees’ premiums.
- SHOP will provide small business owners with a bonus tax credit if they pay for more than 60% of the premiums.
- SHOP will provide self-employed individuals with a $1,800 annual tax credit ($3,600 for family coverage) to purchase health insurance.
Senator Snowe was also a strong supporter of SCHIP and its reauthorization and expansion. She argued that the program should include children in families making up to 300% of poverty and include pregnant women.
In a television appearance in 2009, Senator Snowe stated that she opposed the public option as she doubted the government's willingness to compete fairly. This is supported by press statements noting her opposition to the inclusion of the provision. However, Senator Snowe had a statement read at a SEIU rally claiming that she did indeed support a public option.
Initially, Senator Snowe supported the 2009 and 2010 reform movement. She was the lone Republican on the Committee to vote to allow the legislation to come to the floor for a debate. As the various pieces of legislation passed through the House and Senate, Senator Snowe grew to oppose both the content of the program and the manner in which it was brought to fruition. In the end, she voted against the passage of the bill each time it was up for a vote and spoke against it.
Support for HSA's
In September of 2004, Senator Snowe responded to a census report showing a large number of uninsured citizens, by releasing a press statement noting her support for HSA's.
In September of 2004, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting Maine's recent request for a waiver to allow it to reimport drugs from Canada.
In December of 2004, Senator Snowe released another press statement expressing her disappointment that a recent report failed to provide a set of constructive recommendations to move drug importation legislation forward.
In July of 2006, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting her support for a recent failed amendment to prohibit any use of funds for the purposes of preventing the reimportation of drugs.
Prescription Drug Negotiation
In March of 2006, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting her support for allowing the HHS to negotiate for prescription drugs.
Small Business Health Plans
In March of 2006, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing to allow small businesses to purchase health insurance through a pool.
In May of 2007, Senator Snowe released a press statement announcing legislation that she was introducing to provide government funding for improvements to health IT.
Class Action Lawsuit Reform
In January of 2005, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting her support for legislation that would reform class action lawsuits.
“Class actions play a vital role in our legal system, but abuse of the litigation process is a drain on our legal system and our economy. The frivolous claims that are allowed to go forward only benefit the lawyers who file them,” said Snowe. “This legislation will go a long way toward eliminating abuses that have become increasingly common in the last decade.”
In August of 2007, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting her support for the reauthorization of funding for SCHIP and its extension to include pregnant women and other items.
In August of 2007, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting a speech that she gave on the Senate floor urging the passage of the SCHIP reauthorization. Later that month, she released another statement noting her support for the passage of the legislation.
In September of 2007, Senator Snowe released a statement noting her support for removing limits set forth in the SCHIP legislation as to when children can access the program.
In October of 2007, Senator Snowe released a statement noting her disapproval of the President's veto of the expansion of the program.
Outline for Health Insurance Reform
In May of 2009, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting a plan that she and other Senators were putting forth to reform some insurance matters.
The Public Option
In July of 2009, a spokesperson for Senator Snowe read a statement at a rally and noted the Senator's support for the public option.
I believe that the reforms we are creating will result in more competitive, affordable and innovative options for Mainers, yet we can all agree that we must not leave universal access to chance. That is why I also support a public plan which must be available from day one.
This statement is counter to those made on CNN after the package passed the Senate Committee. Senator Snowe clearly states in the interview that she opposes a public option because it provides too much power to one option.
2009-2010 Health Care Reform
Senator Snowe started out supporting reform of the health insurance industry. She responded to President Obama's call for reform in July of 2009 with enthusiasm. Senator Snowe was one of six Senators part of a bipartisan group attempting to advance the health care reform process. Senator Snowe was the only Republican to vote to allow the legislation to be debated on the floor.
U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) tonight released the following statement regarding President Obama’s remarks on health care reform:
“Tonight, the President once again reaffirmed our shared commitment to achieve comprehensive health care reform this year. With more than 70 million Americans lacking adequate coverage, Congress must act to ensure universal access to high-quality, affordable health care. I was also encouraged to hear the President reiterate his desire that an overhaul of the American health care system must not add to the deficit nor burden hard-working American families. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to forge a bipartisan compromise that will enjoy broad support in Congress and among the American people.”
By late October of 2009, Senator Snowe was becoming upset at the process and did not agree with some of the items included with the reform. She issued a press statement noting her opposition to including the public option with such reform.
U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement today in response to Majority Leader Reid’s decision to include a public option, with a state opt-out provision, in the health care reform bill:
“I am deeply disappointed with the Majority Leader’s decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation. I still believe that a fallback, safety net plan, to be triggered and available immediately in states where insurance companies fail to offer plans that meet the standards of affordability, could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate.”
In November of 2009, Senator Snowe issued a press statement noting her disapproval of the content and process of health care reform.
In December of 2009, Senator Snowe voted against the health care reform legislation and issued a press statement noting her disappointment over the process and outcome of the health care reform legislation.
In February of 2010, Senator Snowe made one last attempt to call for a bipartisan reform, and to put forth the SHOP legislation. In March of 2010, Senator Snowe reacted to the House vote to pass the health care reform by releasing a press statement lamenting the partisan nature.
“This was not Congress’s finest hour -- we could have produced bipartisan legislation supported by a strong majority of Americans but the process by which we considered this enormous task failed to allow for that outcome, to the detriment of the American people."
In March of 2010, Senator Snowe released two press statements and spoke on the Senate floor about her disappointment in the lack of bipartisanship in the health care reform process, and in the changes made after the committee markup.
Reaction to Supreme Court Annoucement
In November of 2011, Senator Snowe released a press statement noting the supreme court annoucement that it will hear the constitutionality of the health care legislaiton.
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 . Olympia Snowe voted in favor of repealing the health care reform legislation.
Olympia Snowe voted in favor of 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. Olympia Snowe voted against passage of the reconciliation bill.
Olympia Snowe voted against 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. Olympia Snowe voted against final passage of the legislation.
Olympia Snowe voted against 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. Olympia Snowe voted against the reform by voting against cloture.
Olympia Snowe voted against the reform by voting against cloture.
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. Olympia Snowe voted in favor of SCHIP.
Olympia Snowe 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. Olympia Snowe voted in favor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Olympia Snowe 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. Olympia Snowe voted in favor of the amendment to prevent border patrol agents from taking prescription drugs from citizens crossing the border.
Olympia Snowe 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 Olympia Snowe voted in favor of Medicare Part D.
Olympia Snowe voted in favor of Medicare Part D.
Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation
Repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, effective as of its enactment. Restores provisions of law amended by such Act. Repeals the health care provisions of the Health Care and Education and Reconciliation Act of 2010, effective as of the Act's enactment. Restores provisions of law amended by the Act's health care provisions.
Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to revise provisions governing the importation of prescription drugs. Waives the limitation on importation of prescription drugs that have been exported from the United States. Prohibits the importation of a qualifying drug unless such drug is imported by: (1) a registered importer; or (2) an individual for personal use. Establishes registration conditions for importers and exporters.
A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the importation of prescription drugs, and for other purposes.