Time for health insurers to compete

by Patrick Leahy and Sheldon Whitehouse

As the Senate considers historic reforms to health care and the health insurance industry, it should repeal the health and medical malpractice insurance industries' exemption from federal antitrust laws. The exemption, enacted nearly 65 years ago, has served the financial interests of the insurance industry at the expense of consumers for far too long. Meaningful reforms to our health-care system must protect consumers and promote competition. Just as we believe that a strong public option will… Continue Reading


Official Torture

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

The prosecutor is often first presented with a case as a "corpus delicti" - a bullet-riddled body in the street, for instance. That ordinarily is enough to justify investigation. Through investigation, the evidence may prove that there was not in fact a crime (it was a suicide or an accident) or that the fatal acts were privileged or enjoy a legal defense (self-defense or justifiable shooting by an officer of the law). But one begins by investigation. The judicial branch (which, under Marbury v… Continue Reading


Why a Public Option Matters in Health Care Reform

by Sheldon Whitehouse

WASHINGTON FEW THINGS are as important in every family's life as good health care. Knowing that when you get sick, you can see a doctor; that when your child needs a checkup, she or he can too; that if something goes wrong, you'll have the very best care; and that the bills won't force you into bankruptcy or out of your home. All of this is vital, not only to physical health, but to peace of mind. Many in America have this kind of health care. But too many don't. Rhode Islanders have s… Continue Reading


Health Reform That Works for Every American

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Sherrod Brown

This morning, millions of people all over this country woke up hoping today isn't the day they get sick. Millions of Americans went to work wondering whether today would be the last day they get paid in a while. And millions sat up late last night at the kitchen table, to try to balance the family budget as health care bills piled higher and higher. Access to secure, affordable health care is one of the brightest lines dividing our country. When the system works, it's at worst inconvenient. Whe… Continue Reading


Don't Rule Out Prosecutions

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In the wake of President Obama's praiseworthy decision to make public the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel torture memos, some commentators have taken the view that the Obama administration should rule out the possibility of torture prosecutions. Not so fast. The president established a Special Task Force that is reviewing interrogation and rendition policies. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the shoddy lawyering behind the tor… Continue Reading


‘Peace will be made the day after an agreement is signed’

by Sheldon Whitehouse

A FEW WEEKS ago, I had the opportunity to visit Israel for the first time as part of a Congressional delegation led by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). As we walked through the Old City, stood in the silence at Yad Vashem, wended our way through the tunnels along the Western Wall, saw the Garden Tomb near the Damascus Gate, I could feel the mix of hope and worry shared by Israelis and Palestinians alike as they navigate towards two independent states sheltered by a durable peace. We arrived in Jerusal… Continue Reading


Whitehouse & Gingrich: Next president must put health in health care

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Newt Gingrich

In the race for president, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have put the issue of health care back in the spotlight. This may seem off message, given the turmoil in the financial markets, but they are right to return to it. Lest we forget, health care is one-sixth of our economy - more than $2 trillion every year - and it is badly broken. Like millions of our fellow Americans, we are deeply frustrated with our health care system. We remain alarmed watching it consume 16 percent of our GDP an… Continue Reading


Honoring 'end of life' wishes

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Discussing end-of-life care makes many people uncomfortable - understandably so - but anyone who has been there through the death of a loved one knows how important it can be. That's why I chaired a hearing in the Senate's Special Committee on Aging on Sept. 24 to look into how we can best honor Americans' wishes at the end of life. Currently, too few Americans have completed some type of advance directive. Even among terminally ill patients, fewer than half have an advance directive included i… Continue Reading


Leveling the Playing Field for Rhode Island Families

by Sheldon Whitehouse

All their lives, Billy and Aida Ojopi have worked hard to provide for their family. He is a pastor. Three of their children are in college. By most standards, they are an American success story. But when I met them at the Urban League of Rhode Island earlier this week, they were struggling. Without warning, the interest payments on their home mortgage had gone through the roof. They began using their credit cards to make ends meet, but then those rates jumped, too. It's an all too familia… Continue Reading


How Justice Erred on Waterboarding

by Sheldon Whitehosue

FOR THE FIRST TIME, the Department of Justice has announced it is investigating one of the most astounding failures of legal scholarship in its history: how waterboarding, historically recognized as among the worst forms of torture, came to be deemed legal and authorized for use in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations by DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). President Bush's recent veto of a ban on torture, a measure I co-sponsored and fought for, makes this inquiry all the more… Continue Reading


Lack of Health IT Shows Market Failure

by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Our health care system is in serious trouble. I have heard from countless Rhode Islanders struggling to pay for health care and afraid of losing insurance coverage on which they and their families depend. I have met nurses frustrated and heartbroken that they must spend so much time filling out paperwork and so little time caring for patients. I have talked with families whose lives and health were shaken by terrifying medical errors - misplaced paperwork, mistaken diagnoses - that should have b… Continue Reading


President should sign anti-torture bill

by Dianne Feinstein and Sheldon Whitehouse

Congress will send President Bush a bipartisan measure this week prohibiting the CIA and other intelligence agencies from using waterboarding and other coercive techniques. We hope he will surprise everyone and sign the measure into law. This measure is part of the 2008 Intelligence Authorization Bill that Congress passed earlier this month. It has been endorsed by 43 retired generals and admirals, and by a bipartisan group of 18 retired national security advisers, secretaries of state, ambassa… Continue Reading


Caring for children isn’t too expensive

by Sheldon Whitehouse

EVERY DAY IN RHODE ISLAND, thousands of families wake up worried about health care. Will a child fall ill? Will costs rise - again? For the people I've met over the last year, at my community dinners and events all over the state, health care is one of their most pressing concerns - and one of government's biggest opportunities to do the right thing. Federal programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, that provide health-insurance coverage to those who might not otherwise have it are one of… Continue Reading


Building a National Health IT Infrastructure

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Our health care system is in serious trouble. I have heard from countless Rhode Islanders who have struggled to pay for their health care and who live in fear of losing insurance coverage on which they and their families depend. I have met nurses frustrated and heartbroken that they must spend so much time filling out paperwork and so little time caring for patients. I have talked with families whose lives and health were shaken by terrifying medical errors--misplaced paperwork, mista… Continue Reading


We need to take a new direction in Iraq

by Sheldon Whitehouse

TRAVELING IN THE OCEAN STATE over the past two years, I met thousands of Rhode Islanders who told me it was time for a change in Washington. Tired of a president who failed to listen and failed to learn, last November they and millions of Americans voted for a new direction. As a new member of the U.S. Senate, I feel a great responsibility to those Rhode Islanders to work to address the many serious challenges our nation faces. None of these, I believe, is more grave or more pressing … Continue Reading


A true change of course

by Sheldon Whitehouse

LAST NOVEMBER, the American people voted for a new direction in Washington. I met thousands of Rhode Islanders who told me we needed change, and in his sixth State of the Union address, President Bush had a real opportunity to show that he was listening. From what we all heard last Tuesday, however, I'm concerned this State of the Union address will end up like so many others from this president: promises that sound encouraging but prove to be empty. As a new senator attending my first State of… Continue Reading

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