Access to Affordable Health Care

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 8:00pm

Background

More than 160 million people in the United States receive health insurance through their employers. In 2008, the number of uninsured Americans increased to 46.3 million, up from 45.7 million in 2007, as health care costs grew and more people found they could no longer afford their plans or lost access to a workplace health plan. Between 2007 and 2008, the percentage of non-elderly Americans with workplace health coverage decreased from 59.3% to 58.5%.

The U.S. Chamber believes the problem of access to affordable coverage is one of our top health care related priorities and requires swift congressional action.

U.S. Chamber Position

1) Get costs under control. Use an all-of-the-above strategy.

  • Medical liability reform
  • FDA pathway for biosimilars
  • Health information technology
  • Comparative effectiveness research
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Coordination of care and medical homes
  • Pay-for-Performance reform
  • Combating fraud and abuse
  • Living wills and end-of-life issues
  • Reinsurance
  • Consumer-driven health options
  • Small business pooling
  • Administrative simplification
  • Long-term care reform
  • Tax parity: Let individuals/small business deduct the full cost of insurance expenses

Without spending a trillion dollars or raising taxes, we could implement these and many other reforms that would help us start to bend the cost curve.

2) Reform the insurance system.

  • Eliminating the use of pre-existing conditions or health status
  • Guaranteeing that any individual or entity will be issued a policy
  • Guaranteeing that policies will not be revoked
  • Place reasonable limits on rating differences
  • Subsidies for those who cannot afford coverage
  • An individual obligation to obtain coverage

For negligible costs to the taxpayers, we could make the insurance system work. Insurance companies support it. An individual obligation is necessary to the equation, and would raise billions for the government that could be spent toward subsidies for the poor. New rating rules would make the system fair for small business and the self-employed.

3) Create a vibrant market place.

  • Create a national all-inclusive connector/exchange that removes fragmentation
  • Should allow individuals and businesses from anywhere in the country to enroll
  • Should facilitate improved pooling mechanisms, choice, and competition

These three simple steps, at low cost to taxpayers, could make the insurance system work for everyone (thereby increasing access for the uninsured), improve our health care delivery system, and make serious progress toward controlling costs. They have support from a vast array of stakeholders. We don't need a $1-2 trillion dollar possible government takeover of health care – we need simple, pragmatic reforms.

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