Support for Health Care Reform Growing (but not Single-Payer)
The Washington Post:
The fault lines are emerging in the upcoming battle over health-care reform.
Recent movement on Capitol Hill and by major health-care players suggests that consensus is growing for action this year, but deep rifts remain over how to pay for expanded coverage and whether a new government-sponsored program should be offered to people who have trouble buying private insurance.
A coalition of hospitals, insurers, employers, physicians, drug makers and consumers released a report yesterday endorsing a set of policy changes that could cut in half the number of uninsured Americans.
Most notably, the group, known as the Health Reform Dialogue, calls for creating an "individual mandate" that would require every American to have some type of health coverage. Anyone who cannot afford insurance would be eligible for subsidies or expanded government programs such as Medicaid.
"We should seek to ensure coverage for all," the group concluded after six months of private, professionally facilitated negotiations.
The results are noteworthy because it is the first time that such a varied mix of special interests -- "strange bedfellows," in the words of one participant -- have coalesced around significant changes to the U.S. health system. The signers include the American Medical Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, two hospital groups, AARP and the liberal consumer advocacy group Families USA.
"We're narrowing the range of disagreement," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit private health-care foundation that was not involved in the effort. It is striking, she observed, that the Health Reform Dialogue and influential lawmakers have all but ruled out the prospect of a European-style single-payer system, opting instead to build on the existing employer-based insurance arrangements.
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