Magazine article The Nation's Health

Report: Americans Want, Deserve Universal Health Coverage

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Report: Americans Want, Deserve Universal Health Coverage

Article excerpt

ACCESS to affordable health care for all Americans, guaranteed financial protection against high health care costs and a "core" benefits package for every individual are among the recent recommendations released in a report from the national Citizens' Health Care Working Group.

Released June 1, the recommendations reflect input from more than 20,000 Americans who participated in about 75 community meetings nationwide or submitted comments online. Final recommendations will be issued at the end of September and will be sent to both President Bush and Congress for review. Congress is expected to then hold hearings on the new recommendations.

The Citizens' Health Care Working Group, authorized by the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, is accepting public comment through Aug. 31 on the recommendations. The working group is an independent body tasked by Congress with engaging the public in a nationwide dialogue about the U.S. health care system in an effort to accomplish wide-ranging changes in health care.

"These recommendations outline a vision and a plan for achieving broad-based change in health care in America," the report said. "We recognize that the issues involved are complex and challenging, and that it will take time and a great deal of technical expertise, as well as political will, to make the changes we think are necessary."

Some of those changes include more intensive efforts to provide quality of care and efficiency, new ways to provide and finance palliative care, hospice and other services and development of so-called "integrated community health networks" that allow for a continuum of care.

While the recommendations do not specify how universal coverage should be financed, the report noted that "assuring health care is a shared responsibility. This includes, on the one hand, a public responsibility for the health and security of its people, and m the other hand, the responsibility of everyone to contribute. …

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