Affordable healthcare is a fading dream for many families, who all too often are waking to the nightmare of a sick child or parent whose care they cannot afford.
Since 2000, health insurance premiums have risen by more than 80%. Nearly 45 million of our fellow Americans are uninsuredand millions more have inadequate coverage. Tragically, 18,000 Americans die every year for lack of health insurance.
Affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans is not only a moral imperative, it is also an economic imperative. Despite Republican hand-wringing about the cost of universal care, it is clear that the cost of doing somethingin lives and dollarspales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing.
When people go without health coverage, we all pay the price. Families who cant afford healthcare try to do without as long as they can, which often leads to expensive emergency room visits. The lost productivity from lack of coverage is estimated by the Institute of Medicine at $65 billion to $130 billion per year.
Furthermore, our system is extraordinarily inefficient. Patients endure bureaucratic denials of the care they should be receiving or are forced to undergo duplicate tests because of changes in providers or lost records. Healthcare providers must waste their time and energy fighting red tape instead of caring for their patients. There are 30 federal agencies regulating hospitals. It is no wonder that up to 31% of all healthcare expenditures go toward administration instead of care.
In New Mexico, Ive made access to affordable care a priority, and Im proud of what weve done to expand access and improve quality. Weve helped more working New Mexicans obtain coverage, lowered premiums in the states Health Insurance Alliance for small businesses, increased the number of children covered by employer-sponsored insurance, and nearly doubled the number of school-based health centers. My state and others are doing everything we can, but its time for the federal government to get to work.
As the presidential primary season approaches, we have been hearing about plans that create huge government bureaucracies, forcing a one-size-fits-all approach upon families or leaving families to fend for themselves. But our well-being is too important to leave to massive, untested programs or grand theories that would unravel the coverage that most Americans are familiar with.
My plan focuses on the three critical areas of coverage, cost and care, to reach the goal of secure, affordable coverage for all Americans.
First, I would guarantee affordable choices of coverage by building on existing systems that already work for millions of Americans: