Every family in Illinois should have access to quality, affordable health care. No person should ever be denied health care because of a pre-existing condition. And doctors and patients -- not health insurance companies or government bureaucrats -- should make health care decisions. Those are the principles that will guide me in Congress as we move forward to improve our nation's health care system. Make no mistake -- the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect, and we have important fixes to make. But it is an important step toward lowering health care costs, expanding access, and making sure no family goes bankrupt simply to pay an unexpected hospital bill. I'm especially thankful the bill closed the Medicare Part D Doughnut Hole in a way that protects our seniors. There are some simple things we can do to build on health care reform. It's time to work with small business to find common sense solutions so employers don't have to choose between paying for health care and shedding jobs. And let's encourage competition by allowing Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. It is increasingly clear that Congressman Bobby Schilling and the Republican Congress have the wrong priorities when it comes to health care. They've sided with insurance companies over patients and working families. For example, I believe Congressman Schilling was wrong to vote 32 times to allow insurance companies to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. He was also wrong to vote against allowing parents to keep their children on the family insurance plan until the age of 26. Families like mine depend on those reforms. Two of my sons are on our family health insurance plan because they either can't afford insurance or don't have access to it. I've heard from so many other parents who are concerned that Congressman Schilling's votes will make it more difficult for their children to have health insurance. Any conversation about health care would be incomplete without addressing Medicare. We have to keep Medicare solvent, but we cannot jeopardize the benefits our seniors have earned. I was disappointed that Congressman Schilling twice voted in favor of the Ryan budget that makes deep cuts to Medicare that seniors simply can't afford. You know the facts: the Ryan-Schilling budget ends Medicare's guaranteed benefit and replaces it with a voucher system that forces seniors to browse the Internet to shop for their own health insurance plan. No wonder the insurance industry is one of Congressman Schilling's top campaign contributors. Under Congressman Schilling's plan, Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay an additional $6,400 in out-of-pocket costs. And, according to a CBS News report, under the Ryan-Schilling Budget, "65-year-olds would pay nearly 70 percent of the total cost of their coverage compared with the 25 percent under current law." Maybe Congressman Schilling doesn't get it, but seniors who live on a pension or Social Security can't afford to pay $6,400 a year more for health care. What's worse is Congressman Schilling voted for a budget that deeply cuts Medicare, but keeps in place the tax giveaways to Big Oil and the tax breaks that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas. We can improve health care and balance the budget, but we have to do it the right way. In Congress, I'll fight for your priorities -- the right priorities. I'll work across the aisle to find common sense fixes to the current system and lower health care costs in a way that improves the quality care. I'll protect our seniors, and will never support a controversial plan that ends Medicare as we know it. Cheri Bustos of East Moline is the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 17th District.
Today is Tuesday, March 11, the 70th day of 2014. There are 295 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done by hogs that are running at large about town. The marshal will take them up and sell them if their owners do not contain them. 1889 -- 125 years ago: George Newberry, Daniel Strecker, Al Webb and James Dixon returned from a voyage down the Mississippi River as far as Memphis, Tenn., on a flat. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Augustana College was put out of the running for the state collegiate basketball title when defeated by Millikin. The Viking lineup included Sten, Samuelson and Swanbeck, forwards, and Holtgren, Johnson and Berg, guards. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The coronation of Pope Pius XII and preliminary ceremonies were broadcast by WHBF on the Mutual Radio Network. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Reactivation of a portion of the J.I. Case Co, plant in Rock Island as a supplier for component parts for the firm's manufacturing centers at Racine, Wis., or Burlington, Iowa, is under consideration. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Downtown Moline business owners will have a chance to help shape the city's future through a survey being done by the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission.