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Hagan pushes to keep tax credits for military families

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has urged the Senate Finance Committee to keep the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit as it decides which tax breaks to eliminate. Hagan wrote to committee leaders to draw attention to how the tax credits help military families.

“I want to see them preserved for all families, but because there are so many current and former military families in North Carolina, I really wanted to raise this particular issue with (Senate Finance Committee) chairman (Max) Baucus and (senior Republican Sen. Orrin) Hatch,” Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro, said in an interview on Tuesday..

“I’ve looked at what these military families have gone through. In the last 10 years we’ve asked more and more of our soldiers and their families.”

And for that reason, eliminating the tax credits would be wrong, she said. Hagan and nine other senators argued in a letter that the two tax credits keep more than 140,000 military families from falling below the poverty line, and help an additional 800,000 people in military families who now live in poverty.

Hagan on health care vote

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan issued the following statement on today's committee vote on health care reform:

Today, the Finance Committee passed a health care reform bill that prevents insurance companies from turning you away due to a preexisting condition, removes annual and lifetime caps on coverage, and removes co-pays for preventive services. It also expands coverage and ensures that if you like your insurance and your doctors, you keep them. These critical health care reform components were also included in the bill we passed in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The Finance bill will reduce our deficit, which has been a requirement of mine all along. Chairman Max Baucus worked hard throughout the process to incorporate Republican ideas and gained the support of Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine on the committee.

I am committed to working with my Senate colleagues on a final bill that slows down the skyrocketing cost of health care and prevents families from sinking into bankruptcy as a result of one medical emergency.

Hagan not committed to a bill

Sen. Kay Hagan said this morning she is not ready to commit to the compromise bill being considered this week by the Senate Finance Commitee.

Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, voiced strong support for the need for changes in the health care in a Senate speech Wednesday, saying health care costs were bankrupting individuals and causing hardships for businesses, Rob Christensen reports.

But she said she was withholding judgment on legislation proposed by Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, that is being considered this week. She noted that the bill that comes out of the Finance Committee will be merged with a bill that has already passed the Senate Health Committee.

"I think there are over 500 amendments," Hagan told reporters in a teleconference. "I'm anxious to see the debate and the amendments that come forward this week. My key conditions have always been you have to have pre conditions not being an impediment to health care, you have a way to open up health insurance to other people, you have to have a bill that is deficit-neutral."

More after the jump.

Hagan supports parts of bill

Sen. Kay Hagan says she supported elements of a health care bill unveiled Wednesday.

Sen. Max Baucus on Wednesday rolled out the Senate Finance Committee plan that requires all individuals to purchase health care and prohibits insurance companies from charging more to people with more serious health problems. But it stops short of President Barack Obama's proposal for a government-run insurance plan.

Hagan said in a statement that she was happy to see that the Senate Finance Committee health care bill would reduce the federal deficit by $49 billion over the next 10 years.

Hagan said she also supports insurance market reforms in the bill. Those changes were also included in a bill passed by the another Senate committee on which Hagan serves. The bill would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because a preexisting condition, removes lifetime caps on coverage and removes co-pays for preventative services.

Hagan said she supports a "backstop" option for Americans who do not have employer sponsored health care. The Finance Committee bill would create a co-op model.

"While there are many details that still need to be worked out, we ultimately need health insurance reform that ensures people who like their insurance and doctors keep them, expands access to health insurance for those without it, and slows down the skyrocketing cost of health care," Hagan said.

Burr says Baucus plan fails

Sen. Richard Burr said the new Senate Democratic health care plan doesn't cut it.

Sen. Max Baucus on Wednesday rolled out the Senate Finance Committee plan that requires all individuals to purchase health care and prohibits insurance companies from charging more to people with more serious health problems. But it stops short of President Barack Obama's proposal for a government-run insurance plan.

"Unfortunately," Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, said, "the proposal put forth today fails several crucial tests. In addition to increasing spending and raising taxes, it also cuts Medicare by nearly half a trillion dollars. It makes no sense to jeopardize health coverage for seniors to pay for health care reform."

The Democratic proposal would be funded by finding savings in the Medicare plan through such measures as cutting beneficiary premiums for physicians and outpatient services.

Burr also said the Democrats' plan is "not financially sustainable over the long-term" and was being rushed through Congress.

Hagan: Contain costs in health reform

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan signed onto a letter today from newly elected Democrats urging the Senate Finance Committee to cut costs as part of its work on health care reform.

"We are concerned that too little focus has been given to the area of cost containment," the letter reads. It continues: "We believe that any final bill must include innovation, hard decisions and incentives to bend the cost curve."

The letter does not include specific suggestions, but it makes clear that the senators are hearing from constituents about the cost of health reform, reports Barb Barrett.

The Senate Finance Committee is amending the details of the Senate's health reform bill and will be responsible for figuring out how to pay for it. The bill, approved recently in the Senate health committee, will cost an estimated $615 billion over 10 years.

The letter was written to Finance Committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus and signed by Sens. Mark Warner, Michael Bennet, Mark Begich, Mark Udall, Jeanne Shaheen, Roland Burris, Tom Udall, Jeff Merkley and Hagan.

07 23 09 Senate Finance Cost Containment Letter.pdf
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