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Issue Position: Affordable and Comprehensive Health Care for America

Issue Position

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Issue Position: Affordable and Comprehensive Health Care for America

American families have bills to pay, and they all seem to be going up. And no where is that more true than health care. For American families, the health care crisis is fundamentally an affordability crisis. If they are not covered by their employer or a government program, they face tremendous health insurance costs. If families are covered by their employers, they face ever-mounting co-payments and benefit reductions. And for American business, the cost or providing coverage to their employees is putting tremendous pressure on their ability to compete with foreign competitors.

In human terms, families are weighing what to cut to pay their health care bills, and employers are weighing health care costs against pay increases and investment needed to keep competitive. Doctors, nurses and medical technicians spend more and more of their time dealing with insurance company bureaucracies instead of providing care.

America as a nation spends $2 trillion on health care each year - 18% of the GDP, the highest fraction in the world. Yet we have almost 50 million uninsured Americans, including 10 million children. Although we have the best medical technology and the most advanced health care in the world, rising medical costs and a badly managed system make our nation's overall health care performance disappointing. For example, New Zealand spends only one third as much on health care per capita as the United States, yet its health care system is rated superior for every marker of efficiency and quality to what is available to the average American.

Bill Foster believes that it is long overdue for all Americans to have guaranteed access to a basic level of health care at a reasonable cost. Most developed and many developing countries around the world already have systems for universal health care that have been in place for many years. It is appalling that ensuring affordable and comprehensive health care for all Americans is still a hot political issue. It is time to change that.

A comprehensive and affordable basic level of health care can and should be provided to all Americans. It can be achieved with a universal health care system which is efficient, proactive, and makes economic sense. Rep. Bill Foster supports fiscally responsible proposals similar to those discussed by the major Democratic candidates for President during this year's primaries to extend a basic level of health care to all Americans - while retaining the right of an individual or employer to choose the type of health care that is satisfactory for them.

The Role of the Free Market in Health Care. As a scientist, Bill believes that the roles of government and free enterprise in the delivery of health care should be driven by data and results rather than ideology. Many current estimates indicate that administrative overheads in our private insurance-based system consume about 30% of healthcare dollars while single-payer systems in other countries consume only 10-15%. In individual states such as Massachusetts (and perhaps soon California), we will be testing universal health care delivery systems with varying degrees of private enterprise involvement. We also have cost and efficiency data from U.S. Medicare system. An honest, non-partisan evaluation of the cost and performance of these systems will allow us to choose the most efficient system for the country as a whole.

Elements of Health Care Reform. Bill Foster will support a health care plan which is:

Comprehensive

# Provides a basic level of comprehensive coverage, with guaranteed quality, for all American people - including the 50 million men, women, and children that are currently uninsured.
# Maintains the freedom to purchase or retain existing coverage that extends the basic coverage.
# Starts by strengthening Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
# Improves transparency for choices, quality, and cost of care.
# Eliminates insurance discrimination and requires automatic renewal.

Efficient and Affordable

# Reduces health care costs by aggressively managing cost and reducing administrative costs.
# Simplifies the patient's experience by eliminating duplicative paperwork and endless fine print.
# Controls, regulates, and contains costs for treatments. Specifically, the guaranteed basic level of health care should provide treatments with demonstrated cost-effectiveness.
# Promotes evidence and result based treatments (rather than fee-for-service).
# Constrains prescription drug costs by increasing competition and discouraging drug companies from wasting money advertising and marketing prescription drugs.
# Implements national standards for secure and private electronic medical records including billing and co-payment systems.
# Supports computer-based decision tools.
# Increases investment in reviews and research on comparative effectiveness of treatments.

Proactive

# Increases emphasis on preventive care.
# Improves treatment of chronic diseases.
# Invests in promotion of healthy environments and lifestyle choices (e.g. eat right, stay active, stop smoking); especially for children where the benefits will be life-long.

Responsible Action Now on Health Care.Partisan bickering and entrenched interests have prevented rational reform of our health care system for decades. In Congress, Bill Foster intends to be a fiscally responsible voice for a workable compromise that provides basic medical coverage for all and meets the needs of businesses, families, and individuals in the Illinois 14th District.


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