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Jan-05-2009 10:14printcomments

Obama's Plan for American Healthcare

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's plan could bring sweeping change to the American healthcare industry.

Biden and Obama

(SALEM, Ore.) - President-elect Barack Obama says that when it comes to health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes - government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules.

Obama says he and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and they say that’s why they’ve proposed a plan to strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable, and ensure patient choice of doctor and care without government interference.

The Obama-Biden team says their plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors and plans to implement the plan.

"Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats," Obama said in a news release.

"Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year."

He says that if you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.

The new president says he wants to, "make health insurance work for people and businesses, not just insurance and drug companies."

The new plan will require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.

Obama says it will create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees, while lowering costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.

He says the plan will also prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors, and make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees health care.

The plan would also establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage. It also is designed to ensure that everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.

Obama/Biden say the plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 as reforms phase in lower drug costs by allowing the importation of safe medicines from other developed countries. This can also be accomplished by increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs and taking on drug companies that block cheaper generic medicines from the market.

The plan would also require hospitals to collect and report health care cost and quality data, and reduce the costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees. The plan would also reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care.

The Obama-Biden team says their plan will promote public health. It will require coverage of preventive services, including cancer screenings, and increase state and local preparedness for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

They say it also underscores a commitment to Fiscal Responsibility: Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.

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