May 29, 2009

Kennedy Voice of Senate Reason on Health Care

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe which was published in yesterday's paper, and today the talking heads have been doing their thing: speculating and making it sound like they have information no one else does.

Instead of looking at the spin, let's look the words from the lion's mouth and then look at what we here at the UFCW have said.

Kennedy outlines five major elements that are included in his health care plan:

* A choice in health insurance for every American, including a public health insurance option.
* Cost reduction.
* Emphasis on preventative care.
* Home-care of the elderly and those with disabilities.
* Investment in training doctors and nurses.

The choice of a new public health insurance plan is a guaranteed backup that will always be there to ensure quality, affordable health care coverage no matter what. We applaud Senator Kennedy on making this a priority in the legislation he is putting before the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, which the Senator chairs.

On cost prevention, the Senator stated:
"We'll go after fraud and abuse, cut red tape, and make sure that doctors and patients know of the latest, most effective therapies for their conditions."
Remember a few weeks ago when the health care establishment said it could cut $2 trillion off the cost of health care in 10 years? Well a few days later they took it back. Senator Kennedy's proposal might actually hold these groups accountable.
"The best way to treat a disease is to prevent it from ever striking. We'll promote early screening for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression."
My grandmother, a font of New England wisdom much like the Senator, would give me the old "ounce of prevention" line when I didn't want to brush my teeth as a kid. There is a lot of truth to that.

One program focusing on prevention is the CDC's VERB campaign. VERB focused on getting "tweens" (what used to be call pre-teens) to be active to prevent childhood obesity and reduce risk to type-II diabetes, and by all measures has been successful.

These types of programs can reduce direct and indirect health care costs across the board.

Kennedy's proposal is also great for some of the things that is does not include.

There is no mention of a "trigger" option, which had been floated in some circles. The trigger idea was that there would only be a public option if certain specific criteria were met, completely ignoring the fact that our health care system is already in crisis.

Also, Senator Kennedy didn't mention anything about eliminitating the tax ememption of employer paid health care benefits, an idea that would do nothing to control the costs of health care while adding a huge burden to working Americans.

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