Congressman Tom Allen unveils a comprehensive plan for national health care reform
"Our national health care crisis has been getting worse, year after year. It is time for a bold, dramatic solution, and I have one," Allen said. "To fix the economy, to help small business and to compete globally, we have to fix healthcare. Piecemeal measures won't fix the problem and are just more of the same. It is time for change. Under my plan, every American will have access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage."
He added, "My plan will relieve the strain on families and individuals, ease the burden on businesses and drive down costs. It builds on the strengths of the existing American health care system by providing new and better choices for businesses, families and individuals who are left out of the system or lack the health care security they should have throughout their lives."
Allen's plan targets Maine's specific needs, notably the financial challenges for small businesses in providing employee health coverage, access to medical care in rural areas, and relief for middle class families and individuals who are struggling to afford health insurance.
Major points include:
All Americans, including the self-employed, and owners and employees of small businesses, will be guaranteed the freedom to purchase a quality plan that is affordable and best for them.
- Every American will have new options and choices. But Americans who like their current health care coverage can keep it.
- The new Healthy Americans Program will offer quality, affordable health insurance choices like those available to Members of Congress to businesses, the self-employed, families and individuals.
- Benefits will include essential medical services, including preventive services, maternity and mental healthcare, and access to a wide range of specialists.
- National choices will include private plans as well as the Healthy Americans Program.
- Businesses and employees enrolling in a national plan can keep their plan even if they change employers, move to another state or experience changes in medical conditions. This will ensure continuous lifetime coverage and access to preventive services.
- To ensure that all Americans have ready access to health insurance, the enrollment process will be simple.
- Businesses and workers for the first time will have access to coverage like the options now available to Members of Congress.
- Insurers will compete for business on the basis of cost and quality, not profit from and discriminate against people because of age or a pre-existing condition.
- People aged 55-65 will be allowed to buy into Medicare. This provides security to early retirees who are charged higher premiums based on age and the risk of incurring higher medical costs.
- To ensure that all children have access to health insurance, SCHIP will be expanded. The plan will improve outreach and enrollment in SCHIP and Medicaid programs for low income families.
- Barriers will be eliminated to allow parents to cover their children up to the age of 25 under their family insurance plan.
- Costs will be driven down with comprehensive measures to improve quality and promote efficiency.
Allen's plan will cost an estimated $75 billion to $100 billion per year and can be funded through a number of measures that will also address our most pressing issues, like bringing our troops home from Iraq.
"We are now spending $12 billion per month in Iraq, so we can start by bringing our troops home. Reducing Medicare Advantage overpayments could save $149 billion over 10 years. Requiring the federal government to negotiate lower prices for Medicare Part D can save billions more every year. We can also roll back the Bush/Cheney energy policies that moved $14 billion in tax breaks and incentives to big oil companies.
"If needed we can refuse to extend Bush's economic policies - tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, earning over $380,000 a year," Allen said. "The point is, we have sources to cover the costs, we can afford to cover everyone, and we can drive down costs in the process."
Allen's plan is an outgrowth of his leadership on health care issues over the past 11 years. As a freshman Member of Congress, Allen took on the pharmaceutical industry and was recognized as a national leader in the debate to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Last year Allen passed critical legislation concerning the comparative effectiveness of health care services that will ensure patients get the best value for their health care dollar.