Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Adviser Describes Obama Health Plan

From Campaign for America's Future: By David Cutler

The Campaign for America's Future has invited health care reformers to clarify their proposals for achieving health for all on our blog. We expect that these postings will be widely linked to and discussed in the blogosphere. Comments and discussion are welcomed.

This first entry is presented by David Cutler, economics professor at Harvard University and health care adviser for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama. - The Editors

On Tuesday, Barack Obama laid out a proposal for universal health care plan that will guarantee every American affordable, comprehensive health insurance. I advised Senator Obama on the proposal, so I will not claim to be an independent voice.

As a health care analyst for nearly 20 years and a veteran of the Clinton Health Plan, however, I believe strongly that the Obama proposal is a bold, comprehensive, realistic approach to national health reform in the United States. It holds the potential for the single most important transformation of health care in a century: one that guarantees Americans health insurance coverage and does so in a way that wrings waste and inefficiency out of the system.

Here's how it works: If you don't have health insurance through your employer, you will be enrolled into a new, comprehensive public health insurance plan that emphasizes prevention, chronic care management and quality care. The benefits will be similar to those available today to every federal employee.

This plan will enjoy the great efficiencies we see in public plans like Medicare but, if you still cannot afford it, you will receive a subsidy to pay for it. Of course, you can choose private insurance if you prefer but the private plans will have to compete on a level playing field with the public plan—without the extra payments that tip the scales in favor of private Medicare Advantage plans today.

Employers who do not offer meaningful coverage or a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to pay a percentage of payroll to the plan and their employees will be enrolled. Any employer can decide it no longer wishes to administer insurance and can offer insurance through the exchange. Self-employed Americans will find it easy to enroll as well at no disadvantage. Children will be covered and no one can be denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition or illness.

All Americans will be covered automatically under this plan. And the resources are set aside in the plan to do whatever is necessary to guarantee affordable coverage for every American.

See link for more details.

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