Senator says more changes needed in health insurance

by Bill Vander Weele

With Affordable Health Care Act’s premiums anticipated to be significantly higher in 2017, the country’s health insurance system is likely to experience changes regardless of which candidate becomes the next president.

“The Affordable Care Act needs some modifications,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said during a conference call with state reporters last week. “There are some things that we can do.” 

The senator mentioned a marketplace for businesses and working with pharmaceutical companies as two potential positive steps.

Tester said it might sound good for candidates to say that they voted to repel the Affordable Care Act, but that isn’t the long-term solution. 

“This is not government health care, we have to hold the businesses accountable,” Tester said. “There are some things that we can do, but it takes working together.” 

In other topics during the conference call:

Tester said he is against the USDA’s decision to open up to Brazil fresh beef imports.

“I’m very concerned of the decision that the USDA has made,” Tester said. “I think this is a bad decision.”

The senator added that he’s a supporter of country-of-origin labeling. “Consumers need to know where their food’s coming from. What we put in our bodies is important.”

On a different note, Tester commends that an agreement was made so that China will resume its U.S. beef imports after a 13-year ban.

“It’s a positive step to lift the ban,” Tester said. “I think it’s a huge market and has the potential to really strengthen the beef industry in Montana.” 

Tester was disappointed that the Senate didn’t accomplish more things this year. “Unfortunately, we left a lot of things on our plate: a Supreme Court Justice, my Veterans First Act, a wildfire funding fix and many many more solutions for problems facing Montana.” 

He was pleased that an appropriations bill for the military and veterans was approved.

“One thing Congress was able to get done was to pass an appropriations bill for our military and our veterans. As one of two leading members on the Milcon VA Appropriations Subcommittee, I worked hard with a Republican to draft a bill that would deliver for Montana’s service members and veterans,” Tester said. “Folks from both parties came together to pass a bipartisan bill that works for our troops and our vets. Thanks to this bill, the VA will have the resources it needs to get our veterans the care they earned.”