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Hillary's Health Care Plan Will Ensure Women Get the Care They Need

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Hillary's Health Care Plan Will Ensure Women Get the Care They Need

A day after announcing Hillary's plan to provide quality health care for all Americans, Hillary Clinton for President released a report on the plan's impact on women and children. The American Health Choices Plan will provide guaranteed, high-quality health care for all - including the 21.5 million women and 8.7 million children without insurance. The report is one in a series that the campaign will release to demonstrate how her American Health Choices Plan will impact different communities.

"This plan will help all Americans - but it will especially make a difference for women in our country who are more likely to be caregivers and health care gatekeepers for their families," said Clinton. "Compared with men, women are less likely to have employer-sponsored health care coverage and are also more likely to be covered as dependents on their spouses' employer-sponsored health plans. As a result, women are more vulnerable to losing their coverage if they are widowed or divorced."

Women who are satisfied with their health insurance will be able to keep it. They will experience no change in their health care except that the modernization and quality initiatives in the plan will improve the quality of care and lower the cost of care for everyone. Women who are not satisfied with their health care or who do not have access to health care will be able to choose from a wide variety of plans at an affordable cost.

"As someone who has worked in the women's health field my entire career, I know too well that overall health care reform is central to women's health because it is women who are most likely to be uninsured or underinsured," said Susan F. Wood, Ph. D., former Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and current professor of Public Health at George Washington University. "This plan will make high-quality affordable health care available to all women and families. We have been fighting to cover all women and children for so many years, and with Hillary Clinton's plan and her leadership, we can actually accomplish this important goal."

During her speech on Monday announcing her plan, Hillary Clinton discussed the stories of two women in the audience, Judy Rose and Lisa Scott. After Judy's husband John lost his job and health insurance, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was able to get the treatment she needed but then after her husband had a heart attack, their medical bills became too high and they were forced to sell their home. Lisa Scott lost her 18-year old daughter, Janelle, because Janelle did not have health insurance and could not afford to get treated for her chest pains and black outs.

"For so many years I have listened to stories like those of Judy and Lisa. I carry these stories with me everyday," said Clinton. "As we strive for a new beginning to the 21st century, I believe everyone, every man, woman and child, should have quality, affordable health care in America. We should do it."

The American Health Choices Plan:
Ensuring Women Get the Care They Need

Covering Everyone, Helping Women

Under the American Health Choices Plan, every woman will be covered regardless of employment or marital status.

If you are one of the 21.5 million uninsured women or 8.7 million uninsured children in America, you will have access to the same quality private insurance options that your Members of Congress receive through a new Health Choices Menu, established without any new bureaucracy as part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). In addition to the broad array of private options, you will be offered the choice of a public plan option similar to Medicare.

If you are one of the 9.8 million women (15 percent) who work outside the home, but do not have health care, you will finally receive the quality affordable health care you deserve. Women are more likely to be employed part-time and more likely to be insured as a dependent, leaving them vulnerable to being uninsured if they divorce, become widowed, or if their husbands' company drops family coverage, which more employers are doing. The American Health Choices Plan requires large companies to provide insurance or contribute toward the cost of insuring their employees, based on the company's size and average wages. Smaller companies, which have less purchasing power and are less likely to offer coverage as a result, will receive a tax incentive to offer coverage. Women will receive a refundable, income-contingent tax credit that ensures that they never have to decide between paying their health premiums and providing for their children's basic needs.

If you are one of the 13 percent of women aged 55-64 without health insurance, the American Health Choices Plan will ensure that you have access to high quality care at a price you can afford. Many women in this age bracket become uninsured when their husbands become eligible for Medicare and lose their private insurance. Due to their age and pre-existing conditions, these women often face difficulties obtaining the health insurance they need. Under Hillary's plan, insurance companies will:

* no longer be permitted to charge large premium differences based on age, gender, or occupation, or deny coverage because of a pre-existing or genetic condition. This plan will end the discrimination against older or sicker patients who often need health care the most but have the hardest time affording it;
* be required to provide coverage to anyone who applies and pays the premium; and
* be required to renew every policy if the enrollee has paid her premiums and wishes to stay in the plan.

If you are one of the 21 million women participating in Medicaid, the American Health Choices Plan will fix the holes in the safety net, such as providing access to childless adults, to ensure that you receive affordable, quality care. Public hospitals and community health centers will also continue to receive support to serve vulnerable populations.

The Need for Universal Coverage
The Americans Health Choices Plan will end the persistent disparities in health outcomes between women who have access to health care and those who do not.

* Women without insurance are less likely to get the care they need. In a 2004 Kaiser study, 87 percent of women overall and 89 percent of those with private insurance reported a visit to a health care provider compared with just 67 percent of uninsured women.
* Uninsured adult women are significantly less likely than those with private insurance to receive screenings, such as mammograms, clinical and breast exams, pap smears, and osteoporosis screenings, as well as more routine checks like blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Screenings increase the chance of catching diseases early and decrease the mortality rate. A recent study found that mammograms lower a woman's breast cancer mortality risk by about 31 percent. But a study by the National Cancer Institute found that the number of women obtaining mammograms fell by four percentage points in 2000 after a significant increase throughout the 90s.
* Two-thirds of women without health insurance said they have delayed or entirely gone without the health care they needed as a result of the cost, compared with only 24 percent of women overall, and 17 percent of those with private insurance.
* Uninsured women are almost half as likely as those with private insurance to report having a regular health care provider (50 percent vs. 89 percent); not having a regular health care provider often translates into more health problems as conditions go undiagnosed and untreated.
* Prescription drug costs are especially prohibitive for uninsured women. Forty-one percent of women without health insurance reported they did not fill a prescription because of the cost, versus 20 percent of women overall. One-quarter of uninsured women reported reducing their dosage because of the cost, and close to one in five reported spending less on her family's basic needs to pay for prescription medications.

High Quality Care at an Affordable Cost
In addition to providing guaranteed coverage for all women, the American Health Services Plan will deliver high quality care at a price everyone can afford through:

* A Focus on Prevention. The American Health Choices Plan will make prevention and wellness priorities in our health care system. All plans in the new Health Choices Menu will have to meet high quality standards experts deem proven and effective - including preventive care, such as regular visits to a physician, and screenings - as a condition of doing business with the federal government. This focus on prevention will improve Americans health and lower their health care costs in the long run. Today, only half of recommended clinical preventive services are provided to adults and less than half of adults had their doctors provide them advice on weight, nutrition, or exercise. By emphasizing prevention, the American Health Choices Plan helps ensure that diseases are caught and treated early on, before they become life threatening.
* Mental Health Parity. Major depression and dysthymia, a type of mood disorder, affect twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or economic status. [xii][xii] The plans in the new Health Choices Menu, which provides the high quality care that Members of Congress receive, cover mental health care services to the same extent that they cover physical illnesses.
* Affordable Prescription Drugs. The American Health Choices Plan will reduce prescription drug costs and save taxpayers at least $4 billion in the process 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 financial relationships with providers. A 2005 study found that women aged 65 and older spent 17 percent more on prescription drugs than men of the same age between 1991 and 2001. Overall, older women spent an average of $1,178 per year, compared with $1,009 spent by older men. And women purchased almost 20 percent more prescription drugs on average than men.
* Support for Small Businesses. The American Health Choices Plan recognizes the important role small businesses play in generating new jobs, particularly among women. Small businesses have created 80 percent of new jobs since 1990. Today, there are 10.4 million women-owned businesses in the country. Small businesses face higher premiums due to limited purchasing power, and tend to employ lower-income workers. As a result, small employers cover far fewer of their employees - and the proportion that offer coverage in the first place is less than half that of large firms that offer health insurance.
o According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 40 percent of women business owners surveyed said "making health care more affordable" should be the nation's top priority, followed by one-third that said "providing basic health insurance coverage to all Americans."
o More than three-quarters of the women business owners surveyed are dissatisfied with the cost of health care; two-thirds are "very dissatisfied."

With Hillary's American Health Choices Plan, small businesses that provide high quality health insurance will receive a significant tax credit (e.g. covering 50 percent of premiums). This will increase the competitiveness of small businesses and expand access to employer-based health coverage for women.

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