Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Keys to Successful Health Reform by the Democratic Leadership Council

Here;s the email I got: The New DLC is releasing a report by Sarah Bianchi that outlines three issues critical to successful health reform: overhauling insurance rules while requiring all individuals to be part of the system; assuring health care is affordable; and creating a competitive marketplace through effective insurance exchanges. The report, "What It Takes: Three Keys to Successful Health Care Reform," is available in its entirety here:

Bianchi, who served as the national policy director of the Kerry campaign in 2004, and has advised President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and the late Senator Edward Kennedy on health care policy, argues that, regardless of whether the final health bill should include a "public option," Congress needs to get the following three issues right:

- Insurance Reforms Won't Work Without an Individual Requirement: There is a general consensus on the real need to prohibit insurance companies from excluding those with pre-existing conditions, limiting what insurers can charge due to age, gender and health status, and requiring them to offer adequate benefits. However, these reforms won't fix the market unless there is a meaningful requirement that individuals buy health insurance.

- Affordability and Cost Savings Are Crucial for Expanding Coverage: An individual requirement won't succeed unless health care is affordable. Thus, health reform must include real cost containment provisions and meaningful subsidies. Congress should resist efforts to water down the subsidies.

- A Well-Functioning Exchange Is Essential to Creating a Healthy Marketplace: A well-designed exchange that offers a variety of private options would bring costs down both by encouraging insurers to compete for their business, and reducing administrative costs. But for the exchange to succeed, Congress will need strong rules that prevent businesses from dumping high-cost employees into the marketplace, and stop insurers from cherry picking the least costly enrollees.

In his address to Congress, President Obama said: "The driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage available for those without it ... the public option is only a means to that end -- and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal."

At the New DLC, we are working hard to help the administration get a successful reform plan enacted.

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