HD Committee Approves Comprehensive Health Care Recommendations

Article excerpt

Despite the threat of Hurricane Rita, NLC's Human Development (HD) Steering Committee met in San Antonio, Texas, September 22-24, hosted by Council Member Christopher "Chip" Haass.

Chaired by New Haven Alderwoman Rosa Ferraro Santana, the committee approved policy recommendations on comprehensive health care reform, "health care for everyone" and support for the Community Services Block Grant.

Comprehensive Health Care Reform

The HD Steering Committee's approval of recommendations for comprehensive health care reform represents a culmination of the policy work of NLC's Working Group on Health Care.

The working group recommended a comprehensive federal solution that included reform to all aspects of the health care system--the consumers, the medical providers, drug manufacturers and insurers.

The HD Steering Committee will be recommending to the HD Policy and Advocacy Committee that the federal government must take "major reform initiatives in the health care system" to help cities respond to the escalating costs of providing health care to municipal employees, retirees, and dependents.

The recommendations indicate, "Comprehensive federal reforms are needed in all areas of the health care system--consumers, medical providers, hospitals, insurers, and drug manufacturers."

In summary, the HD Steering Committee approved the following recommendations:

Individual Health Care Choices and Personal Responsibility: The federal government should implement policies that make Americans more proactive medical consumers who can manage costs by better understanding their own basic health needs, make healthy lifestyle choices, make well-informed decisions regarding the health care system, and manage chronic disease.

More Transparency and Less Administrative Waste in the Health Care System: The federal government must promote the quality and efficiency of hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers. Health information technology (Health IT), performance standards, and reduction of health duplication and errors should help reduce medical costs. Standardization of insurance codes, simplification of forms, disclosure of costs in an easily understood format, enforcement against fraud, and appropriate tort reform should help reduce administrative costs.

Pharmaceutical Industry:. The federal government should address the increases in prescription drug costs that include unnecessary over-utilization of newer, more expensive, overly advertised medicines. Appropriate federal regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising and promotion of clear, easily understandable information should help medical providers and patients become better consumers of medicine. …