Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Obama-Biden Health Care Agenda

The Obama-Biden Transition Team is requesting that all interested citizens pay a visit to the transition's website,, and voice ideas and concerns regarding American health care and health care reform. By clicking here, you can go directly to the web page dedicated to the health care agenda and submit your opinions and views.

The Obama-Biden web page discusses health care in this manner:

"On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and that’s why they’ve proposed a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference.

"The Obama-Biden plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors, and plans. Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats.

"Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options."

Allegedly, the plan would:

  • Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
  • Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
  • Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
  • Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
  • Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees' health care.
  • Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
  • Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.
  • Lower drug costs by allowing the importation of safe medicines from other developed countries, increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs, and taking on drug companies that block cheaper generic medicines from the market.
  • Require hospitals to collect and report health care cost and quality data.
  • Reduce the costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees.
  • Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care.
I am personally dubious that insurance company practices can be sufficiently reformed to prevent abuses. I am also dubious that such a ponderous system administered by both the federal government and employers will not prove incredibly complex and difficult to manage for employers, government officials, insurers, providers, and consumers alike.

In terms of the plan, I would also like to see the following:

  • details regarding a more robust national plan of preventive health care initiatives
  • sufficient funding for public health initiatives
  • sufficient funding for emergency preparedness and the national Medical Reserve Corps
  • a comprehensive plan to decrease the nursing shortage, including grants and loan forgiveness
  • a plan to assuage the nationwide shortage of primary care physicians
  • a plan to create an Office of the National Nurse

Despite my reservations, doubts, and dubiousness, it is indeed exciting to see a new administration apparently dedicated to transparency, as well as the active participation of all Americans in the process of change that is underway.

Meanwhile, I am willing to suspend my disbelief, listen to the conversation, join in on the conversation when I have something useful to say, and watch as the story unfolds. These are exciting and nerve-wracking times, and I do indeed hope that the change that has been promised will indeed be delivered. Until that time, patience is one virtue we will all need to put into practice.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to Post a Comment

Did you hear the good news? Obama is making it better for us already! Most people don't realize how much money there is out there. During economic times like this, there is more money to be had than ever. Because of the bailouts and economy, lenders are bending over backwards to bail you out too. Believe it or not, there is people getting tons of cheap money nowdays to start businesses, buy homes, pay off debt, and more. Bailout is for YOU

Marcus Aurelius said...

am an male R.N.. The nursing employment sector, based upon the profit motive, is, by it's very nature, inimical to providing that sort of working environment which is conducive to retaining nurses and encouraging individuals to go into nursing. The profit motive encourages a combative, exploitive, deceptive, and unco-operative attitude, by management, towards nurses. Nursing, itself, requires co-operation, an honorable attitude, strict rules of personal conduct towards patients, their families, and other health care workers, and significant personal and financial sacrifice to both become and remain in nursing.
The two are inherently incompatible. The result is the nursing shortage.
I suggest, therefore, that a National Nurse Corps be created along military lines. Nurses, in the same, would have job security, reasonable working conditions, reasonable opportunities for advancement, and protection from arbitrary and unjust job actions.
The same would be compatible with providing quality nursing care, encouraging individuals to go into and remain in nursing, and, most importantly, create an health care environment in which the commitment to quality health care is justly rewarded.
There is discrimination against men in nursing employment and education that must be appropriately addressed through laws and regulations. Protecting men from this kind of discrimination will encourage men to enter into and remain in nursing which help alleviate the nursing shortage.

Keith "Nurse Keith" Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC said...

Thank you both for your comments. I especially like the idea of a National Nurse Corps, although I am already an active member of the Medical Reserve Corps. Sign me up!