National Consumers League

Health Reform – For the Health of the People and the Economy


by Mimi Johnson, NCL Health Policy Associate All signs point to health reform happening in time for Congress to take their August recess.   It will be a busy two months in this town, but everyone agrees that SOMETHING has to happen … if only we could figure out what that something will look like. In a paper released last week, Obama’s economic advisors outlined a few of the main ways in which health care costs link to the economy, and how fixing the health care system can help fix the economy. The Administration outlines just how our broken health care system hurts our workforce; we currently burden small employers with skyrocketing costs for covering their employees, lock workers to jobs for fear of losing health benefits, and have a workforce unable to be as productive as possible because of their health. We were also excited to see that the President is supportive of efforts to engage and educate consumers.  The National Consumers League is committed to educating consumers about their health and the tools available to help manage it.  There is increasing evidence of the cost savings and improved health outcomes when a consumer is educated and engaged in their health care. Because there are so many players vested in the outcome, there are a lot of competing ideas about how best to approach reform.  In fact, even those on the same side cannot always agree.  Yesterday, President Obama hosted Senators Kennedy (chair of the Senate’s HELP – Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – Committee) and Baucus (chair of the Senate’s Finance Committee) to try to find some common ground.  As follow-up to the meeting, President Obama released a letter to Senators Kennedy and Baucus reiterating his commitment to reform, including:

  • ensuring quality and affordable health care for all Americans – offering choices, an insurance exchange, and a public plan
  • managing chronic care
  • promoting best practices
  • sharing responsibility – including for the cost of coverage
  • working towards a more effective, efficient, and quality-driven system
We’re pounding the marble on the Hill, trying to get our voice heard.  If you can’t make it to Washington, here are some other good ways to stay informed and be heard: Stay tuned throughout the summer for additional updates!