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Seniors Receive Higher Quality Health Care At Lower Costs Under Hillary's Plan

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Seniors Receive Higher Quality Health Care At Lower Costs Under Hillary's Plan

In a report released today, Hillary Clinton addressed how her American Health Choices Plan will impact seniors. Under her plan, seniors will be able to keep Medicare but she will make their health care more affordable by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, reducing medical errors, and implementing preventive measures, such as screenings, that can head off illness early on. Clinton's plan will also promote innovative care management programs to help those with chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer -- illnesses that affect many seniors.

"We need to honor our commitment to our seniors and ensure that they are receiving the best care possible," said Clinton. "While Medicare has worked wonderfully for many seniors, we can do even better by cutting their drug costs, giving our seniors the tools and resources to prevent disease, and providing better management of their chronic conditions if they do become ill."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a quarter of all seniors reported spending at least $100 per month on their medication. Hillary Clinton's plan will tackle drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, creating a pathway for biogeneric drug competition, removing barriers to generic competition, and providing more oversight over pharmaceutical companies' financial relationships with providers.

Clinton's plan will also address the challenges many seniors face in managing chronic conditions. In 2002, the top three causes of death for Americans over the age of 65 were heart disease, cancer and stroke. Currently, at least 80 percent of older Americans have at least one chronic condition and 50 percent have at least two. The American Health Choices Plan will ensure higher quality and better coordination of care by using state-of-the-art chronic care coordination models within federally-funded programs to provide care for Americans afflicted with these costly, multi-faceted illnesses.

In addition, the American Health Choices Plan will help seniors receive preventive services so they can be diagnosed and treated for diseases in early stages rather than when that disease becomes serious or life-threatening. For example, up to 30 percent of deaths from breast cancer could be prevented through regular screening mammograms, but about 20 percent of women ages 65 to 69 have never had one. The plan will require coverage of preventive services that experts deem proven and effective, such blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, vision and hearing screenings.

The American Health Choices Plan:
Ensuring Affordable, Quality Health Care for Seniors

The American Health Choices Plan will improve the quality of health care while making prescription drugs and other services more affordable. Under the American Health Choices Plan, Medicare will remain exactly as it is, but seniors will have higher quality health care at a lower cost.

Quality Care at Lower Costs for All Seniors

The American population is rapidly aging - by 2030, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to reach 20 percent of the country's population, up from 12 percent in 2005. As our population ages, we will also see decreases in our overall levels of health and well-being. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of older U.S. adults who report very good or excellent health decreases with age, and the percentages are even lower for some minority populations. The American Health Choices Plan will:

* Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs - Americans pay the highest prices in the world for drugs, and no other nation spends what we do for health insurance. In the last decade, prescription drugs accounted for 15 percent of the total increase in health spending, despite the fact that they account for only about 10 percent of all health costs. This plan will tackle drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices; creating a pathway for biogeneric drug competition; removing barriers to generic competition; and providing more oversight over pharmaceutical companies' financial relationships with providers. According to a national survey administered in 2006, "out of pocket spending remains high for a sizable share of U.S. seniors. More than a quarter of all seniors reported spending at least $100 per month on their medication, and 8 percent reported spending $300 or more each month."
* Provide Better Care for the Chronically Ill - The American Health Choices Plan will promote innovative care management programs to help those with chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, many of which are illnesses that plague seniors. In 2002, the top three causes of death for Americans over the age of 65 were heart disease (32 percent of all deaths), cancer (22 percent) and stroke (8 percent). And currently at least 80 percent of older Americans have at least one chronic condition and 50 percent have at least two. The American Health Choices Plan will ensure higher quality and better coordination of care by using state-of-the-art chronic care coordination models within federally-funded programs to provide care for Americans afflicted with these costly, multi-faceted illnesses.
* More Effective Treatments: In the past decade, there has been an 80 percent growth in the number of drugs prescribed, 100 percent growth in new medical device patents, 300 percent growth in teaching hospital procedures, and 1,500 percent growth in diseases with gene tests. All patients, particularly seniors, need information on how treatments compare to one another. Eighty-five percent of seniors report regularly taking prescription medications. The American Health Choices Plan funds a Best Practices Institute that would work as a partnership between the existing Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the private sector to fund research on what treatments work best and to help disseminate this information to patients and doctors to increase quality and reduce costs.
* Focus on Prevention - The American Health Choices Plan will require coverage of preventive services that experts deem proven and effective, such blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, vision and hearing screenings and more. Seniors are at the greatest risk for heart disease and simple blood tests can screen for risk factors. Bone density screenings can identify osteoporosis, which afflicts one in five women over 65 and more in older people. Up to 30 percent of deaths from breast cancer could be prevented through regular screening mammograms, but about 20 percent of women ages 65 to 69 have never had one. Preventive efforts are useful to Americans of any age but are especially important to seniors, as many people tend to develop illnesses as they age.
* Invest in Health Care Professionals - A shortage of health care professionals throughout the country has left many hospitals understaffed. As baby boomers age, the need for health care professionals will grow - and the shortage will intensify. The American Health Choices Plan addresses this issue by providing funding to schools of nursing to recruit and train faculty. Priority funding would go to schools that collaborate with worker training programs to recruit, train, place and provide career pathways across the spectrum of health care settings. Funding would also be available to states to partner with local organizations to develop credentialing programs for personal or direct care professionals.
* Protect Retiree Health Benefits and Help Manufacturers Stay Competitive - Under the American Health Choices Plan, retiree health sponsors, working with their labor representatives, will be able to opt into one of the new options and they will benefit from the increased simplicity, choices and competition. For large American manufacturers that have a workforce that includes a large portion of retirees - and, as a result, have unusually high health care costs - a new initiative called the Retiree Health Reinsurance Competitiveness Initiative will provide a tax credit for qualifying private and public retiree health plans to offset a significant portion of catastrophic expenditures that exceed a certain threshold. This initiative will help America's major manufacturers remain competitive.


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