Health Care Reform
To begin, what is health care reform?
According to the White House's official site, HealthReform.gov, the Administration believes that comprehensive health care reform should accomplish the following:
- Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
- Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
- Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
- Invest in prevention and wellness
- Improve patient safety and quality of care
- Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
- Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
- End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
To understand these goals and the terms used in the debate over how to achieve them, check out some of these user-friendly glossaries.
- Time Magazine's Understanding the Health Care Debate: Your Indispensable Guide [pdf] charts out key words and phrases commonly heard in health care conversations, telling you what each term means and why it matters to you.
- The National Mental Health Association also shares information on decoding health care vocabulary.
- And PBS aids viewers in demystifying health care with their own handy Healthcare Crisis glossary.
At the very root of the health care reform debate lies the issue of insurance: who needs it, how to improve it, and how to fund it.
One goal of healthcare reform is to improve current systems of insurance by mandating insurance providers to do the following:
- No discrimination for pre-existing conditions
- No dropping of coverage for the seriously ill
- No gender discrimination
- Extended coverage for young adults
- No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses
- No cost-sharing for preventive care
As it stands now, more than 30 million American citizens are uninsured. Therefore, another proposal of the reform plan is to set up a "public option" healthcare system which would be a federally funded insurance program that any citizen can access and buy into, regardless of age, employment, or pre-existing conditions.
Ideally, the low-cost government program would compete with existing insurance companies in order to drive costs down and quality of care up in pre-existing insurance programs.
There's no doubt that health care reform is a hot-button issue. There are a lot of claims made on all sides of the debate. If you're having trouble separating the fact from the fiction, check out the Health Truth-O-Meter on PolitiFact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning political fact-checking website.
Follow the links below to find Missouri's federal legislators' positions and to contact them with your own questions and comments.
- U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO): Issues and Legislation, contact.
- U.S. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO): On the Issues, contact.
- U.S. Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO District 7): Health Care, contact.
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