A Message from Senator Burr

Despite intense debate over the past few weeks, there is still no agreement in Congress on how to reform our health care system. I am hopeful that over the August recess, Members of Congress will seek the input of their constituents and study the pending legislation very carefully. There is too much at stake for Congress to get this wrong.

I will carefully review and evaluate any health care reform bill that is considered by the Senate, and I will continue to fight for a plan that is fiscally responsible and sustainable for future generations. I believe we must keep what is working in our health care system but do more to promote wellness, prevention, and chronic disease management and to help those Americans who have no access to coverage. Any reform effort must also protect the research and innovation that drives the development and deployment of new medical technologies and medicines.

The United States currently spends twice as much on health care per person than other industrialized nations, yet we are not twice as healthy. The solution is not for the federal government to spend more and raise taxes; the answer is to get more value for our health care dollar through more choices.

Most Americans agree that some kind of reform to our health care system is needed. I believe our highest priorities should be addressing the high cost of health care and improving access to high quality care. That is why I joined with Senator Tom Coburn to introduce the Patients' Choice Act, a bill that delivers on the principles of promoting access to quality and affordable health care, but does so without adding billions of dollars in new debt or taxes.

My bill will provide an opportunity for all Americans, regardless of employment status, to access the same quality health coverage and choice available to Members of Congress and other federal employees. Every American deserves access to this level of coverage, and my bill provides this access at little to no cost to the U.S. taxpayer. Unfortunately, this will not be the case if Congress approves a government-run plan. I am very concerned that government-run health care will lead to long waits to see a doctor and a lack of choice in health care. Congress should not rush this important reform effort, but instead take the time to consider these alternatives and the potential costs and benefits they might have.

To learn more about the Patients Choice Act, please visit my website at burr.senate.gov.

Recently, the Senate considered the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes funding for our nation's military and defense initiatives. I offered several amendments to the bill, including the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, which was approved by voice vote. I am very pleased by the passage of this amendment, which allows spouses of servicemembers to maintain residency in their home state. Under current law, active-duty personnel can keep a home state of residence no matter where military orders send them. However, military spouses do not have these rights, even though they move right along with their service member. This means that every time they move, military spouses have to change their license plates and registrations, voter registration, and even file state and local tax returns in a different state than their active-duty spouse.

As many North Carolinians head to the beach this month, I have introduced legislation to ensure our state's residents continue have access to our scenic treasures. The Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This bill would ensure that citizens can still access North Carolina's wonderful beaches while continuing to address environmental concerns.

As many may know, the Senate has confirmed Judge Sotomayor as a Justice on the Supreme Court. After much consideration I decided to vote against Judge Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. Undeniably, she has impressive academic credentials, a lengthy judicial record, and a personal story that is inspiring to many Americans.However, I could not support her nomination because of concerns with her ability to adhere to long-standing case precedent and apply the law according to a strict interpretation of the Constitution. I am also troubled by her decisions in cases where she appears to have relied on something other than well-settled law to come to a decision.

I will be traveling across North Carolina during the coming month. Check with my blog for occasional updates from the road.

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U.S. Senator Richard Burr