Senators, Health Care Players Address Issues
The Hill on Wednesday published a series of opinion pieces from senators, health care workers and public officials addressing health care issues. Summaries appear below.
- Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.): The U.S. is only about "one-third prepared" for a flu pandemic, and the Bush "administration's recently released implementation plan for the national pandemic flu strategy ... still leaves many key questions unresolved," Biden writes. He calls on the U.S. to increase its international response, improve local health departments, establish a strong central pandemic flu leadership position and address the needs of the poultry industry (Biden, The Hill, 5/10).
- Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.): "I agree with the president that we must take steps to address the budget deficit, but cutting programs that give hope to the 71 million Americans living with cardiovascular disease is the wrong approach," Dorgan writes. Referring to provisions in President Bush's budget proposal to eliminate a program that helps rural communities purchase automated external defibrillators, as well as to reduce or stop increases in budgets for medical research, Dorgan writes, "I'm sure most fiscally minded people would agree that programs that save lives and address soaring health care costs should be the last ones to be cut or eliminated" (Dorgan, The Hill, 5/10).
- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.): Lawmakers "need to jump-start" the debate over health care reform "and change a failed health care system that is letting down so many Americans," Feingold says. He says Congress should be forced to take up the issue of health care reform and states should be encouraged to "take creative and innovative approaches to providing universal health care, so that some of these good ideas can become viable initiatives" (Feingold, The Hill, 5/10).
- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass): "Every child deserves" health care, and the nation shares "a collective national responsibility" to ensure that the uninsured children in the U.S. receive it, Kerry writes. He adds that he will bring his "Kids First" proposal to provide coverage to the 11 million uninsured children in the U.S. to a vote in Congress this year (Kerry, The Hill, 5/10).
- Mike Leavitt: "We cannot solve all America's health care problems overnight, but we can find ways to increase the quality of care while reducing costs," Leavitt, secretary of HHS, says in a Hill opinion piece. He writes, "To do so... [p]eople need to know how much their health care costs. They need to know the quality of the care they receive. And they need to have a reason to care." He adds, "Right now, none of these things exist in our health care system" (Leavitt, The Hill, 5/10)
- Susan Sender: This election year is "a prime opportunity [for Congress] to focus on those medical treatments and therapies that can save taxpayer dollars, improve patients' lives and serve more people," Sender, chief nursing executive of Gentiva Health Services, writes in a Hill opinion piece. She says that recent advancements in the home health care industry "can be applied on a larger scale with adequate government support," but the federal government "has yet to recognize all of the possibilities" of the field, adding that "[w]ith improved patient outcomes, demonstrated savings and clear public preference, home care would seem like a good candidate for more federal support" (Sender, The Hill, 5/10).
- Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.): While "Republicans have spent the past few years working consistently" to improve access to health care, Congress needs to address the malpractice insurance "crisis" by passing two bills introduced this week that include liability reform, Santorum writes. Noting that one bill "seeks to reduce the liability problem for physicians" and that the other "focuses on ensuring that mothers and newborns have access to ... obstetrical and gynecological services," Santorum says that the bills "need to be debated, fairly and openly" and "deserve an up-or-down vote" (Santorum, The Hill, 5/10).