By Margaret Heldring, PhD
President and CEO, America’s HealthTogether
At the top of the healthcare agenda for the 108th Congress could be the transformation of our present healthcare system. According to a recent issue of Health Affairs, nearly 60 percent of the national healthcare dollar is now financed through taxes-for such programs as Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the Veterans Administration, tax-subsidies for workers, and public employee benefit plans. The new Congress will be working hard to reduce that percentage-by squeezing program revenues, cutting benefits, and forcing individuals to pay for more of their own healthcare expenses.
At America’s HealthTogether/Coalition Health First, we believe that there’s a better way. All Americans deserve quality, affordable healthcare. Healthcare should be an essential service, such as public education and national security that we all can count on. There is one insurance program that includes everyone, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, gender, and health status. One program that is administered efficiently and is simple to understand and use. One program that guarantees choice of provider, and is rated highly by a large proportion of its members. That program is called Medicare for Americans aged 65 and older and millions of the disabled.
As more Americans are forced to drop their health insurance coverage because of higher premium costs or to pay more out-of-pocket for their current coverage, we predict that a new and improved Medicare program for all Americans may start sounding like a winning solution in 2004.
Dr. Margaret Heldring served as the Director of Health Policy for former Sentor Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential campaign. She is a clinical psychologist with more than 30 years experience in health care.
America’s HealthTogether is a public policy organization devoted to assuring affordable health care for all, unencumbered access to essential health care services, and a belief that mental health is fundamental to good health.