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Rivals Call For Catastrophic Health Program

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The Republican senator and the Democratic senator from Oregon say Congress should keep devastating illnesses from leaving families destitute.[@@]

Sens. Ron Wyden, R-Ore., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., appeared on the floor of the Senate Thursday to talk about their shared legislative agenda.

Wyden and Smith are both members of the Senate Finance Committee, and one of the key items on their agenda is working with the committee to get the government to play a role in shouldering some of the financial risk associated with catastrophic health problems.

“Democrats have proposed it,” Wyden said, according to a transcript of his remarks printed in the Congressional Record. “Republicans have proposed it.”

Once the government shares some of the risk, “the costs go down for everybody,” Wyden said.

Smith agreed on the importance of creating a new risk-sharing mechanism.

“I have always believed that in America, and certainly in Oregon, the loss of one’s health should not mean the loss of one’s home,” Smith said.

Smith and Wyden also made a general plea for bipartisanship.

“Our citizens are not interested first in Republican solutions or Democratic solutions,” Wyden said. “They want solutions that work for Oregon and our country. They want ideas, and they get frustrated when they see political figures letting petty and partisan differences get in the way of their interests.”