|U.S. Department of Health and Human Services||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Issues Special Report on Health Reform and Launches New healthreform.gov Web Site
American People Say Health Care System is Broken, Highlight Need for Action This Year on Health Reform
Americans expressed serious concerns regarding health care in a new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report, Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care Community Discussions, summarizes comments from the thousands of Americans who hosted and participated in Health Care Community Discussions across the country and highlights the need for immediate action to reform health care.
The report is available on a new Web site dedicated to health reform: www.HealthReform.gov. Unveiled today, the Web site will allow Americans to view today's White House Health Forum, share their thoughts about health reform with the Obama Administration and sign a statement in support of President Obama's commitment to enacting comprehensive health reform this year.
"This new Web site, www.HealthReform.gov and report ensure that when we discuss health reform, the American people will have an equal stake in the health reform efforts," said HHS Spokeswoman Jenny Backus. "Sky-rocketing health care costs are creating enormous pressure on families, on businesses and our fiscal future. The Obama Administration is committed to taking action this year on health reform and is calling on government, business, health care stakeholders and everyday Americans to come together to make it happen."
In December, then President-elect Obama called on the American people to host Health Care Community Discussions to assess the seriousness of the problems and identify solutions. In the last eight years, health insurance premiums have grown four times faster than wages and one million more Americans have lost their health insurance each year. Health care costs have forced small businesses to close their doors and compelled corporations to ship jobs overseas.
Over 9,000 people signed up in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to host a discussion, and thousands more participated in these gatherings. After each Health Care Community Discussion, guests and hosts were asked to fill out a Participant Survey and submit a group report to the Presidential Transition Team's Web site summarizing the group's concerns and suggestions. Group reports from 3,276 Health Care Community Discussions as well as Participant Surveys from 30,603 participants were collected, analyzed, and are summarized in the report.
The cost of health care services and health insurance was the top concern about the health care system for 55 percent of discussion participants. Participants also cited lack of emphasis on prevention, pre-existing conditions limiting insurance access, and the quality of care as key concerns. A qualitative analysis found that the Health Care Community Discussions focused on concerns about a "broken" health system, access to health insurance and services, rising premiums and drug costs, medical mistakes and the system not being "for them."
Health Care Community Discussion group participants agreed on the values and direction that should guide reform. They called for a system that is fair, patient-centered and choice-oriented, simple and efficient, and comprehensive. Participants also offered a wide range of specific solutions, including making health insurance more accessible through an insurance "exchange" or a public plan option, creating scorecards on quality and cost, improving the nutritional content of school lunches, implementing electronic medical records and creating an AmeriCorps for health workers.
Today's report also includes a series of personal testimonials from Health Care Community Discussion participants who expressed their concern about the state of health care in America. A farmer from Enid, Okla., explained, "I have spent my life's savings on [health care], and now I am refused care at our local hospital because I cannot pay. I may have to file bankruptcy due to this." A report from Missoula, Mont., commenting on policies that allow insurers to deny coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions said, "No mother should have to say her daughter is 'uninsurable.'"
President Obama has committed to reforming health care this year and has already acted to make health care more affordable and accessible. President Obama signed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children through the Children's Health Insurance Program. The President also signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which includes investments in electronic health records, prevention, comparative effectiveness research, and health workforce training -- foundations for a 21st century health care system. Additionally, the President's Budget Blueprint also includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform.
A copy of Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care Community Discussions, group reports filed by participants and hundreds of submitted photos are available at www.HealthReform.gov.