President Rejects Recommendation for Health Care Overhaul
The Bush administration on Wednesday rejected recommendations for revisions to the U.S. health care system made by the Citizens' Health Care Working Group in a September 2006 report, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 3/15).
The group, established under the 2003 Medicare law, sought to promote "a nationwide public debate" on efforts to provide "every American with the ability to obtain quality, affordable health coverage" and develop "an action plan for Congress and the president to consider as they work to make health care that works for all Americans." Members of the group include hospital administrators, physicians, nurses, a union president and a corporate benefits manager.
The group issued recommendations in a report to the Bush administration and Congress on Sept. 29, 2006, based on a series of public meetings held nationwide and research on health care issues conducted for almost one year. The report recommended that all U.S. residents have access to affordable, core health benefits by 2012 and that all residents participate in a revised health care system (California Healthline, 3/9).
In addition, the report recommended the establishment of an independent, nonpartisan committee that would develop the list of core health care benefits. The report also recommended protection of consumers from high health care costs. The report did not include a proposal to fund the recommendations.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the president agrees with many of the goals of the group but supports "an approach emphasizing consumer choice and options" rather than an approach "based on mandates and government intervention."
Leavitt added, "A nationally determined set of core health benefits would place important decision making about a person's health care in the control of federal appointees, rather than allowing the consumer to choose the benefits that best meet their needs."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who wrote the group charter with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), expressed disappointment with the response of the administration (Freking, AP/Long Island Newsday, 3/15).