Saying incremental change hasn't worked, the National Coalition on Health Care called for comprehensive healthcare reform, including achieving healthcare coverage for all Americans in the near future and bringing healthcare cost growth in line with inflation in other sectors of the economy within five years. The industry-and-consumer coalition outlined three additional goals to be achieved in the next few years: better quality of care and increased patient safety; less cost-shifting for more equitable financing of care; and simplified administration.
The coalition proposed that Congress establish a package of core benefits available to all Americans and that universal coverage be achieved within three years of the legislation's passage. The group did not estimate the cost of such a program or endorse a particular financing method but suggested various options. The options included: a universal, publicly financed program; employer and individual mandates; expansion of existing programs; and creation of new programs targeting the uninsured. The coalition said that without such an approach, more than 51 million Americans would be uninsured by 2006, compared with an estimated 43.6 million in 2002, and premiums would have more than doubled since 2001. -- by Tony Fong