Outline, Ramifications of Clinton Health Care Reforms
Dr. Jay H. Stein, THE JOURNAL RECORD
The cost of health care in the United States and access to this care have become the major political and economic issues facing our country.
Spending for health care in the U.S. has now reached more than $800 billion per year. Spending per person tripled in the past decade and is now over $3,000. It is thought that by the year 2000 we will be spending $1.6 trillion per year on health care. Approximately 9 percent of the gross national product in 1980 was spent on health care. This parameter currently consumes more than 13 percent of the GNP, and if things don't change will account for 16 percent by the year 2000.
It should also be noted that health-care costs threaten the competitiveness of our businesses. The cost of health care is the No. 1 cause of labor disputes and is reported to have added over $1,000 to the cost of every car made in America.
Warnings have been made that over the coming decades, every dollar that workers might earn from higher wages could go to defray the cost of their health care. All of this is happening when one in every four citizens in this country has been without health-care benefits at some point in the last two years. Obviously, something has to change.
Health-care reform was one of the major aspects of the recent presidential election. In fact, the Sept. 10, 1992, issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, both President George Bush and Gov. Bill Clinton wrote articles outlining in some detail (although still very vague) their health-care plans and their visions for the solution to this complex problem. It seems appropriate to outline the Clinton plan and discuss some of the ramifications.
Clinton opened his article with the following comments: "The American Health Care System has the potential to provide every citizen with the best care in the world yet the system as currently financed and organized is plagued by two problems; health-care costs are increasing at unsustainable rates and Americans cannot be sure that they will have health-care coverage when they need it."
He then stated: "We must reform the health-care system so that all American families can have access to affordable high quality health care. My plan offers a framework for this reform and as president, I will bring together health-care providers, consumers, employers, and the government to work toward our common goal."
What are the major points of his plan and how can it be funded?
In the New England Journal article, Clinton stated that he has three basic goals: to control rising health-care costs, to find a mechanism for coverage of every American with at least a basic health benefits package and to maintain consumer choice in coverage and care. Obviously, this is an ambitious task.
First Clinton would establish a national health-care board composed of consumers, providers, and representatives of business, labor and government. This critical group would establish budget targets to fund more benefit packages that would be available to every citizen (public program). Employers and employees would either purchase private health-care benefits or participate in this public program.
The National Board would also establish budgetary targets for health care to guide expenditures in the public and private sector. …