U.S. Residents Asked To Weigh In on Priorities for Health Care Reform
On Friday, Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) announced a nationwide campaign to gather public input on improving the U.S. health care system, the Denver Post reports.
Daschle is President-elect Barack Obama's likely nominee for HHS secretary (Riley, Denver Post, 12/7).
At a health care summit in Denver organized by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Daschle encouraged U.S. residents to hold community meetings and house parties from Dec. 15-31 to discuss their health care concerns and experiences. The Obama transition team will gather the information from those meetings and post it on the Web site change.gov (Freking, AP/USA Today, 12/6).
Daschle said he will attend at least one house party and prepare a detailed report for Obama (Connolly, Washington Post, 12/6).
Daschle said, "President-elect Obama has made health reform one of his top priorities," adding, "I'm here to tell you that his commitment to changing the health care system remains strong and focused" (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 12/6).
Daschle said, "There is no question the economy is going to be directly related to our ability to reform the health care system in the years ahead." He said, "Health care is going to destroy many of our manufacturing industries unless we fix the system" (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 12/5).
With more than half of U.S. residents receiving health care coverage through their employer, the rising unemployment rate makes overhauling the health care system "so urgent and so much a part of the economic recovery process," Daschle said (Marcus, Bloomberg, 12/5). He added, "Once we get started, it would be a big mistake to put it aside and move on to something else. Once we get started, let's get it done."
Among the principles that will guide the Obama administration's efforts to overhaul U.S. health care are increasing access to care for low-income and uninsured residents, shifting incentives that undercut preventive care, and changing the way the health care system tracks medical information and keeps records (Denver Post, 12/7).
In a statement on Friday, Obama said, "In order for us to reform our health care system, we must first begin reforming how government communicates with the American people," adding, "These Health Care Community Discussions are a great way for the American people to have a direct say in our health reform efforts" (Washington Post, 12/6).
According to the Los Angeles Times, the plan to hold community discussion "appears designed to avoid the appearance that the new administration is developing a sweeping agenda behind closed doors," a perception "widely believed to have helped doom the Clinton administration's health care reform efforts in the early '90s" (Los Angeles Times, 12/6).
John Rother, public policy director for AARP, said that Obama and his transition team "are clearly trying to do it differently and help the American public see the case for reform in human terms" (AP/USA Today, 12/6).
The New York Times' "The Caucus" reports that Obama's "effort would be an extension ... of the Obama transition team's forays into harnessing that vast grassroots network it built during the campaign as it tries to channel the diffuse but palpable energetic forces into a newly formed, broader-based good" (Phillips, "The Caucus," New York Times, 12/5).
Recently the transition Web site change.gov hosted an online health care discussion that collected about 10,000 entries to which Daschle responded in a short video (Rhoads, Wall Street Journal, 12/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.