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Mathern Releases Comprehensive Health Plan

Press Release

Location: Fargo, ND

Mathern Releases Comprehensive Health Plan

4-Point Plan seeks to Restore Health to the Health Care system

Dem-NPL Gubernatorial Candidate Sen. Tim Mathern outlined his plan Tuesday for helping North Dakota families that are struggling with the rising cost of health care.

"The health care system as we know it is headed for a crisis," Mathern said.

"No one anticipated that this could happen in the financial sector. And likewise, President Bush and Governor Hoeven have turned a blind eye to the growing crisis in health care."

Some facts about the current state of health care in ND:

* Since 2000 health insurance rates are up 75% (Families USA)
* That's almost three times faster than wages (Families USA)
* 22 rural hospitals are operating at a deficit and could close if nothing is done. (Critical Access Hospitals, Survey ND)
* Fewer than half of the state's employers offer health insurance to their employees, (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

The Mathern health plan includes the following initiatives:

1. Provide Health Coverage for Every Child

"My plan will cover all uninsured children through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or Healthy Steps, to the maximum amount allowed by the federal government," Mathern said. "This reduces what the rest of us pay for the health care of these uninsured kids with higher insurance premiums."

2. Focus on Prevention

"We must turn our sick care system into a health care system by reducing high rates of chronic illness," Mathern said. "A Mathern administration will implement prevention programs for an estimated $2.1 billion dollars of savings over what is currently spent on health care."

These prevention efforts include:

1. Health insurance for all kids so that they see a doctor regularly
2. Physical education in all our schools
3. Promotion of healthy lifestyle programs in schools and workplaces

3. Protect Health Care Providers

"Large and small hospitals are losing money because reimbursement rates are not keeping up with rising costs," Mathern said. "Twenty-two rural hospitals are currently operating at a deficit and could go out of business in five years if nothing is done." A Mathern administration will establish:

1. A revolving low-cost loan fund to help rural hospitals with their infrastructure needs. Once paid back, the money will be available to other hospitals.

2. Increased Medicaid reimbursements to large hospitals, small hospitals and physicians so that reimbursements at least cover costs. The state and federal government must pay their bills.

3. Enforce the law by implementing legislation passed in the last session that raised Medicaid reimbursements to help small hospitals meet their costs.

4. Health Insurance for All

Escalating costs have made Health insurance unaffordable for too many people and businesses. "A Mathern administration will make health insurance available to every adult and business in North Dakota that needs it," Mathern said. "We will bid the job out to the private sector and permit uninsured individuals, families and businesses to purchase health insurance."

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