Friday, February 27, 2009

Principles for America's Health Care System

In the budget released Thursday, President Obama offers a set of principles for transforming and modernizing America's health-care business:
  • Protect Families’ Financial Health. The plan must reduce the growing premiums and other costs American citizens and businesses pay for health care. People must be protected from bankruptcy due to catastrophic illness.
  • Make Health Coverage Affordable. The plan must reduce high administrative costs, unnecessary tests and services, waste, and other inefficiencies that consume money with no added health benefits.
  • Aim for Universality. The plan must put the United States on a clear path to cover all Americans.
  • Provide Portability of Coverage. People should not be locked into their job just to secure health coverage, and no American should be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.
  • Guarantee Choice. The plan should provide Americans a choice of health plans and physicians. They should have the option of keeping their employer-based health plan.
  • Invest in Prevention and Wellness. The plan must invest in public health measures proven to reduce cost drivers in our system—such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and smoking — as well as guarantee access to proven preventive treatments.
  • Improve Patient Safety and Quality Care. The plan must ensure the implementation of proven patient safety measures and provide incentives for changes in the delivery system to reduce unnecessary variability in patient care. It must support the widespread use of health information technology and the development of data on the effectiveness of medical interventions to improve the quality of care delivered.
  • Maintain Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability. The plan must pay for itself by reducing the level of cost growth, improving productivity, and dedicating additional sources of revenue.
Well, my gentle snowflakes, it sounds pretty good to me--all except the part of "Guarantee Choice" that says, "They should have the option of keeping their employer-based health plan."

If some are carved out into another pool, how "universal" (see "Aim for Universality) is the system going to be?

Unless everyone is in the same risk group, the costs are not going to be spread far and wide enough. We will end up with s0me getting better coverage, that is actually paid for, than others.

With the rising unemployment, and more and more people losing whatever coverage they may have had through their employers, it seems there is a real opportunity to throw the mess that tries to pass for a health care system into the trash and start over. Do it right. Get the insurance companies, with their 20-30% overhead and their automatic denial of coverage, out of the picture once and for all.

Medicare for All has got to be the answer.

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