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Monday, June 16, 2003


Issue Watch – Health Care For America

posted by Adam F. at Monday, June 16, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
A new feature is starting at The DeanBlog called IssueWatch. Each will focus on a single issue important in the 2004 campaign. There is no better place to start with for Dr. Dean than health care for America.

>”A just-released Congressional Budget Office study shows that nearly 60 million Americans lack health insurance at some point during the year.”

>”The number of uninsured is soaring at the rate of nearly 1 million people every year.”

>”More than 40% of uninsured adults postponed seeking medical care last year alone.”

I personally know a bit about the health care crisis. Let me talk about a situation that is going on right now here in Oregon as an example. I am one of thousands of low-income Social Security disability recipients who lost prescription drug coverage this year with two weeks written notice. There was no transition plan. There was no help of any kind here in Oregon for those who faced losing their prescription medications, equipment, and supplies. People died because of this disaster right in my neighborhood. I’m personally back to having to deal with regular migraines and vertigo caused by the brain stem injury I received in the act of random violence that put me on disability over a decade ago. That had been completely controlled by medications for almost 8 years. The entire population of mentally disabled individuals on SSDI here in Oregon lost their medications as well. As I live in Section 8 housing for disabled and elderly individuals, I have had to watch too many sweet and decent people who never hurt anyone in their lives disintegrate before my eyes. They lost their ability to carry out the activities of daily living one must perform to function in society as their medications ran out. Many have lost their housing in the wake of this disaster.

Even if those in Oregon have no empathy for this situation, and only want to discuss costs, this makes no sense. This is a population that must now receive its treatment at emergency rooms and through hospitalizations. Oregon will most certainly be paying double or triple what the costs of these programs were through the increased cost of paying off all the extra emergency room and hospitalization costs. It’s far cheaper to have disabled individuals living at home with their health conditions stabilized through standard office visits, prescription medication, and at-home treatment.

What’s happening here in Oregon is just one example of many sad stories documenting the declining health care infrastructure in this country. Howard Dean has an answer to the deteriorating health care situation in our country. His plan is called “Health Care for America.” He explained it this way in his speech announcing the plan…

“First, and most important, in order to extend health coverage to every uninsured child and young adult up to age 25, we'll redefine and expand two essential federal and state programs -- Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Right now, they only offer coverage to children from lower-income families. Under my plan, we cover all kids and young adults up to age 25 -- middle income as well as lower income. This aspect of my plan will give 11.5 million more kids and young adults access to the healthcare they need."

"Second, we'll give a leg up to working families struggling to afford health insurance. Adults earning up to 185% of the poverty level -- $16,613 -- will be eligible for coverage through the already existing Families and Children Health Insurance Program. By doing this, an additional 11.8 million people will have access to the care they need. "

"Many working families have incomes that put them beyond the help offered by government programs. But this doesn't mean they have viable options for healthcare. We'll establish an affordable health insurance plan people can buy into, providing coverage nearly identical to what members of Congress and federal employees receive."

"To cushion the costs, we'll also offer a significant tax credit to those with high premium costs. By offering this help, another 5.5 million adults will have access to care."

"Third, we need to recognize that one key to a healthy America is making healthcare affordable to small businesses. We shouldn't turn our back on the employer-based system we have now, but neither should we simply throw money at it. We need to modernize the system so employers will have an option beyond passing rising costs on to workers or bailing out of the system entirely. Fortunately, we have a model of efficient, affordable and user-friendly healthcare coverage: the federal employee health system."

"With the plan I've put forth to the American people, we'll organize a system nearly identical to the one federal workers and members of Congress enjoy. And we'll enable all employers with less than 50 workers to join it at rates lower than are currently available to these companies -- provided they insure their work force. I'll also offer employers a deal: The federal government will pick up 70% of COBRA premiums for employees transitioning out of their jobs, but we'll expect employers to pay the cost of extending coverage for an additional two months. These two months are often the difference between workers finding the health coverage they need, or joining the ranks of the uninsured."

"Finally, to ensure that the maximum number of American men, women and children have access to healthcare, we must address corporate responsibility. There are many corporations that could provide healthcare to their employees but choose not to. The final element of this plan is a clear, strong message to corporate America that providing health coverage is fundamental to being a good corporate citizen. I look at business tax deduction as part of a compact between American taxpayers and corporate America. We give businesses certain benefits, and expect them to live up to certain responsibilities."

"I believe this plan is sensible and that it can pass Congress -- but most importantly, I believe that it is the right thing to do. When my wife, Judith Steinberg, and I graduated from medical school, we took an oath in which we pledged to practice our profession with conscience and dignity and to always make the health of our patients our first consideration. With this plan, and in my campaign for the presidency, I will make the health of all Americans my first priority. Our country has waited too long, and we must do better.”

(Thanks to the DeanForAmerica website for much of the source material.)


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.