Americans clamor for healthcare reform now, says HHS report

By Bernie Monegain
10:22 AM

Americans are pressing for action now on healthcare reform, according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS also launched on Thursday its new healthreform.gov Web site.

The report,  "Americans Speak on Health Reform:  Report on Health Care Community Discussions," summarizes comments from thousands of Americans who hosted and participated in Health Care Community Discussions across the country and highlights the need for immediate action to reform healthcare.

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Many of the summaries addressed the critical role healthcare information technology could play in fixing what many called a "broken" system.

The report is available on the new Web site

"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 healthcare 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, healthcare 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. Healthcare costs have forced small businesses to close their doors and compelled corporations to ship jobs overseas.

More than 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 and analyzed and are summarized in the report.

The cost of healthcare services and health insurance was the top concern about the healthcare system for 55 percent of discussion participants. Other concerns cited were the lack of emphasis on prevention, pre-existing conditions limiting insurance access and the quality of care.

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."

Discussionm 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.

 

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