As President Barack Obama prepares for the State of the Union address Wednesday evening, he must find a way to discuss health care reform—a policy objective under increasing strain. In a shifting political landscape as congressional leaders recalibrate their approach to reform, we asked several interest groups to explain which elements of reform matter most to them.
Here’s what they said:
Ron Pollack, Founding Executive Director
“I think it’s most important for President Obama to emphatically and unmistakably clarify that the health reform process is going to move forward with the meaningful legislation that has already passed on the Senate and House floors, and that he’s not in any way turning back.
The most important elements of reform would be coverage provisions that include expanding Medicaid for families with low incomes and providing subsidies for middle and moderate-income families so they can afford coverage and care.”
Physicians for a National Health Program
Robert Zarr, M.D, Board Member
“When it comes to the elements of health care reform that are the most important, it’s actually pretty simple. One is universality, so that every person living in the United States has access to quality care. And that includes everybody. Somebody who just arrived to the United States without papers but is a successful, productive citizen should not be forced to use the emergency room.
The second element is comprehensive benefits. There’s a basic basket of medical necessities that we need to agree on—all the preventative care, all the primary care, all the specialized care that primary care physicians feel is necessary, the physical therapy, hospice care and long-term care.
The third element is cost containment. We believe cost containment is going to come out of a system where the government entirely finances care through taxes and it becomes the sole purchaser of supplies and other medical needs.
Those are the three basic principles that need to be heeded. If Obama wants to see real reform, we have to take private insurance companies out of the picture. There’s no other way to do it.”
Institute for Health Freedom
Sue Blevins, President
“For us the issues have always been health privacy and patients’ freedom to choose their health care, because health privacy is a concern for people. We believe that people are very concerned about the use of mandatory electronic health records, which were part of the economic stimulus package passed in February 2009.”