Principles for Health Care
If we're going to fix our economy, we must fix America's broken healthcare system - we cannot afford to wait. Crushing healthcare costs have made it impossible to strengthen our economy, with families and businesses all struggling to make ends meet. Reforming healthcare means: keeping the healthcare you have, if you like it, seeing the doctor of your choice, increasing the quality of care while decreasing costs and eliminating waste, helping small businesses stay competitive, and reforming the insurance market so you will never face losing your coverage. Now is the time, to guarantee everyone access to quality, affordable healthcare.
Every man, woman and child in America must be guaranteed access to quality affordable coverage that will cover what they need to keep them healthy, provide adequate coverage for when they need it, and protect them from skyrocketing costs.
- The average family of four is paying $29,000 a year for healthcare in taxes, lower wages, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
- In 2004, half of all people filing for bankruptcy cited medical costs as a reason. And in 2008, half of all home foreclosures were due in part to the high cost of coverage and care.
- The U.S. economy lost as much as $207 billion in 2007 as a result of the poor health and shorter lifespans of the uninsured.
Quality Affordable Coverage for All
- Benefits should be the same as the coverage that Members of Congress receive, with a guaranteed level of benefits.
- Require guarantee issue of all health plans, adjusted community rating of premiums and other insurance market reforms that provide access to all Americans without regard to health status or claims history.
- Provide sufficient subsidies for low and moderate income individuals and families.
- Limit the amount of out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles and co-payments.
- People in the country legally, who work hard and play by the rules, deserve affordable coverage and access to public programs, as they do with children's health insurance program (SCHIP), and subsidies.
- Increase support for community-based health services and prevention by expanding the current system of community health centers, supporting safety net hospitals, and local public health efforts.
Business, government, and individuals must come together and share responsibility in solving America's healthcare crisis. Building on the employer based system will help people keep the healthcare if they like it.
- One in five American workers are currently uninsured, having increased by about 6 million in ten years.
- Employers who choose not to provide coverage for their employees are putting responsible businesses at a competitive disadvantage and increasing costs for everyone.
- American small businesses have seen their health care costs grow by 30% since 2000. Seventy-three percent of small business owners are willing to contribute towards guaranteeing quality, affordable health coverage for their employees.
Everyone Must Share Responsibility
- Employers should offer and contribute to meaningful coverage for their employees or pay into a fund.
- Small businesses should be guaranteed protections to help control costs and keep them competitive. Small businesses should receive tax credits, and the smallest businesses should be exempted.
Public Health Insurance Option
The option of a public health insurance plan is necessary to ensure appropriate and adequate coverage, to foster choice and competition, to bring down costs, and to assure consumers have a stable marketplace where they can find quality, affordable coverage.
- Every day, fourteen thousand more Americans lose their insurance coverage during this economic crisis - left on their own in the private market.
- In 2008, one in six U.S. metro areas were dominated by one health insurer and controlled 70 percent of HMO/PPO enrollees, severely limiting consumer choice.
- Between 1997 and 2006, per enrollee spending in private insurance grew 59% faster than spending in Medicare.
Increase Choice and Competition
- A public health insurance option coupled with a more structured and robust private insurance market will prevent a handful of companies from controlling the insurance market and help drive costs down.
- A public health insurance plan will promote efficiency and innovation within the market, achieve lower growth through fair competition, and force private insurers in the marketplace to promote efficiencies and innovations as well - all helping to lower costs.
- A public health insurance option would help alleviate the burden on small businesses that is forcing them to choose between cutting health benefits and laying off employees.
Long-term and Chronic Care
Developing a better system to provide long-term care and care for chronic conditions will lower costs, improve quality of care and life, and help people stay in their homes and communities.
- In 2005, ten percent of Medicare beneficiaries accounted for nearly two-thirds of Medicare spending.
- Medicare spent $17.4 billion in 2004 on unnecessary or potentially preventable hospital readmissions. In fact, over 19 percent of the Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital re-enter the hospital within 30 days.
- All Americans should have the choice to get needed care at home - 89 percent of Americans 50+ want to remain home as long as possible.
Improve Care for Chronically Ill
- Chronic care must be included in reform to promote more home and community based options under Medicare and Medicaid.
- Reforms should include more coordinated care, especially for the most chronically ill, especially those who are both Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Healthcare Workforce Investment
Reforming America's broken healthcare system requires training and upgrading the healthcare workforce. Our new healthcare system must expand its reach and capacity in order to deliver cost-effective, preventive and primary care to our rapidly aging population, uninsured, and underinsured Americans who currently go without adequate healthcare.
- There are more than 116,000 unfilled nursing jobs in America's hospitals and more than 25,000 unfilled nursing jobs in our nation's nursing homes.
- To keep pace with projected demand, our healthcare system will grow by nearly three million workers by 2016.
- Overall, the number of Americans who need long-term care and services will increase from approximately 10 million today to 15 million in 2020 to 27 million in 2050.
Invest in Jobs
- A significant federal investment in appropriate training and education of the non-physician workforce is needed.
- Training in new technologies, teams, and systems must be provided to both incumbent healthcare workers and new recruits.
- Support should be provided to recruit and train a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities it serves.