Tackling Health Care Reform
"Today, we have by far the most expensive health system in the world. We spend 50 percent more per person on health care than the average developed country... We spend more on health care than housing or food...
Even though we spend more than any other nation on health care, we aren't healthier. Only three developed countries have higher infant mortality rates. Our nation ranks 24th in life expectancy among developed countries. More than one-third of Americans are obese."
What are the benefits of the public option?
Health reform must be built on three fundamental principles: It must lower the skyrocketing cost of health care; guarantee choice of doctors and plans; and assure quality affordable health care for every American. A public option would achieve those goals and give the American people more choices. It would foster greater competition; lower costs; and give consumers a greater variety of affordable choices.
End of life, is the government trying to control when I die?
This provision, which has been supported by the AARP, would allow senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with any information they might need about preparing a living will, providing medical power of attorney, and—if they are seeking this kind of advice—end of life decisions. These counseling sessions are not mandatory; they are simply made available to those who wish to use the service because they are unable to receive the information from another source. This means that if a senior is seeking such advice and guidance, Medicare would cover it. This measure would allow Medicare to compensate doctors for discussing with their patients the most difficult care choices—those that happen at the end of life. It would actually empower individuals to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, and better ensure that their wishes will be followed.
American families with insurance pay a hidden tax of roughly $1000 for the cost of caring for people without insurance. As more Americans become insured, that hidden tax will begin to disappear. In addition, covering everyone will put downward pressure on costs. Bringing younger, healthier people into the system will spread the risk. As more Americans become covered, insurance companies will compete for their business. That will begin to lower costs. And health insurance reform will create stability and security for everyone. If you lose or change jobs you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you will always be able to find an affordable health insurance option for your family.
First, there is widespread rationing in today’s system. Right now, decisions about what doctor you can see and what treatment you can receive are made by insurance companies, which routinely deny coverage because of cost or the insurance company rules. Health reform will do away with many of those rules that result in rationing today.
Health Insurance Reform will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because you have a pre-existing condition; prevent them for canceling coverage because you get sick; ban annual and lifetime limits on coverage, which often force people to pay huge sums out of pocket if they develop a serious illness; and prevent discrimination based on gender.
With health insurance reform, we will also put treatment decisions back into the hands of doctors in consultation with their patients.
One of the reasons we spend too much on health care today is that our incentives are perverse: Doctors are paid by the procedure, rather than for quality. We want reform that rewards quality of care not quantity of procedures. Having dozens of procedures doesn’t necessarily make you better. In fact they can make you worse. Right now roughly 100,000 Americans die every year from medical errors, which, in many cases, were the result of treatments that were wrong for them. We want to reduce preventable hospital re-admissions that are frequently caused because patients are not getting the right care in the first place. We want to give doctors the ability to make the best treatment decisions for you and your family.