The Associated Press reported that in another nod to primary rival Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton is proposing to increase federal money for community health centers and outlining steps to expand access to healthcare across the nation.
Clinton’s campaign says the proposal is part of her plan to provide universal healthcare coverage in the U.S. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also is reaffirming her support for a public-option insurance plan and for expanding Medicare by letting people age 55 year and older opt in, that is purchase Medicare coverage.
The announcement Saturday was a clear gesture toward Sanders, who ran a strong primary campaign against Clinton and has held back from endorsing her candidacy as the party’s convention nears.
In a statement, Clinton said: “We have more work to do to finish our long fight to provide universal, quality, affordable healthcare to everyone in America.” Do you all realize why this statement is so important??
Clinton’s campaign noted that Sanders had promoted doubling money for primary care services at federally qualified health centers. Money for these centers was increased under the Affordable Care Act, an effort led by the Vermont senator.
According to the Clinton campaign, her proposal would make money for these centers permanent and expand it by $40 billion over the next 10 years. Her campaign said the money would be mandatory and not subject to annual appropriation. The proposal would more than double the money for the centers, which currently get $3.6 billion annually.
Sanders, in a conference call after the Clinton campaign’s announcement, said her proposal “will save lives” and “ease suffering” and represented “an important step forward in expanding healthcare in America and expanding health insurance and healthcare access to tens of millions of Americans.”
Clinton’s policy overtures come as Sanders appears to be close to supporting her candidacy.
Two Democrats with knowledge of Sanders’ plans told the Associated Press that Sanders was closing in on offering his public endorsement of Clinton. The Democrats spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations they were not authorized to disclose.
Sanders told reporters that the two campaigns “are coming closer and closer together in trying to address the major issues facing this country.” He added: “We’ll have more to say, I think, in the very near future.”
Clinton and Sanders frequently clashed over healthcare during the primaries. Sanders campaigned on a “Medicare for all” plan that would have provided universal coverage. Clinton said that would undercut President Barack Obama’s health law, rely too heavily on GOP governors and reopen a contentious debate with Republicans in Congress. But look what President Obama just announced, which I will review at the end of this post.
Clinton’s healthcare priorities have centered on capping out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and providing tax credits for families facing high medical costs.
Clinton has reiterated her support for a “public option” for states to set up their own health insurance plan to compete against private insurers. Sanders was instrumental in passing legislation that would allow that.
Both supported a public insurance option at the national level but opposition from moderate Democrats prevented that proposal from being included in the health overhaul law.
But Sanders and many of his supporters continue to debunk her commitment to progressive healthcare and social change and belittle her claims of past achievements. They point to her failure in the mid-1990s as field marshal for the Clinton administration’s healthcare reform effort to win passage of universal coverage legislation as proof of her ineffectiveness and timidity in confronting powerful special interest groups.
“What Secretary Clinton is saying is that the United States should continue to be the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all of our people,” Sanders said during a debate last month.
Here is the key comment from Hillary: “I do believe in universal coverage,” Clinton shot back. “Remember, I fought for it 25 years ago.” Yes, she did and my prediction is that we will face the transition to a true Universal Health Care Program run and “financed” by the Government….No the Taxpayers, either with higher income taxes, value added taxes or continued burrowing from foreign sources. How long can that continue… Is this strategy sustainable?
Millennial voters, who have skewed heavily toward Sanders in the Democratic primaries and tend to scoff at Clinton’s record, are too young to know her history. Even Baby Boomers are prone to forgetting it. It seems like a good time to revisit Hillary Clinton’s healthcare story. Yes, I will do this over the next few weeks.
Two people with first-hand knowledge of that story are Neera Tanden, CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and policy group based in Washington, and Fran Visco, executive director of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Both say the Hillary Clinton they know is nothing like the self-serving politician described by her critics.
Tanden—who served as a senior policy adviser to Clinton when she was first lady, legislative director when Clinton was in the Senate, and policy director when she ran for president in 2008—emphasizes Clinton’s tireless work as first lady in helping pass and implement the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now covers 8 million kids. It’s widely acknowledged that Clinton played a pivotal role in building congressional and White House support for the 1997 passage of that legislation.
She pushed her reluctant husband to support $24 billion in funding for the new program in the Senate bill, rather than the $16 billion approved by the House. “The children’s health program wouldn’t be in existence today if we didn’t have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue,” Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, who co-authored the CHIP bill with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, told the Associated Press in 2007.
Tanden’s account of Clinton’s CHIP implementation efforts squares with her sometimes-mocked image as a detail-oriented policy wonk. Hillary was the person in the Clinton administration most focused on outreach and enrollment for the new children’s insurance program, bringing together private-sector officials from the Ad Council and AT&T to organize advertising and a toll-free line to get information out to the public, Tanden said.
“She recognized this legislation would stand or fall on whether people knew about it and signed up kids,” Tanden says. “She rolled up her sleeves and figured out how to get a high take-up rate. The amount of free advertising we got for CHIP was monumental given that we had no resources.”
Even when she was running for Senate in 2000, Clinton still checked up regularly on the CHIP enrollment rate, just as she closely monitored the progress of the Affordable Care Act legislation—and lobbied Democratic lawmakers to support it—in 2009 when she was secretary of state, Tanden says.
“After the CHIP bill passed, she didn’t just rest, she kept at it,” Tanden said. “Healthcare is very close to her heart.”
The CHIP legislation was just one of several ambitious healthcare initiatives Clinton worked on. In the Senate, she developed comprehensive healthcare quality legislation, which included precursors of accountable care organizations and other payment reform models, though it did not pass. “Very early on, she was talking about the problem that we have a sick care system rather than a system of keeping people healthy,” Tanden said. “She was a leading thinker on a lot of these issues.”
Clinton also was ahead of the curve on health information technology. In 2003, she introduced the Health Information for Quality Improvement Act, which called for a new office to create a national health information infrastructure including patient safety, privacy, and interoperability initiatives. The following year, the Bush administration established the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
The breast cancer coalition’s Visco recalls first meeting Clinton just before her husband was elected president in October 1992. She was struck by how much Clinton cared about the issue of breast cancer and how much she knew about policy relating to the disease. With the first lady’s support, the coalition succeeded in persuading Congress to increase federal funding for breast cancer research from $100 million a year to more than $400 million, with some of that funding going to the Defense Department.
But the Pentagon didn’t want to spend money on the breast cancer research program. “So we went to Hillary Clinton, and she went to the president and made it happen,” Visco said. “She was our ally from Day 1. I’ve never known her to be cautious when it came to doing the right thing.”
Tanden particularly debunks the criticism from Sanders and his supporters that Clinton has kowtowed to powerful industry groups. “I find that so ridiculous,” she says, pointing to Clinton’s losing battle with the health insurance industry in 1993-1994 to pass comprehensive healthcare reform. “She wasn’t worried about sacred cows in insurance. They spent a ton of money against her.”
“She always tries to think about what’s best for families,” Tanden continues. “She’s been a fearless advocate for taking on special interests (when they are) in direct conflict with families. She thinks about these things in terms of the difference it makes in someone’s life.”
It remains to be seen if Clinton can make her case to voters as compellingly as Tanden and Visco make it. The candidate herself is painfully aware of her shortcomings as a communicator. “I am not a natural politician, in case you haven’t noticed, like my husband or President Obama,” she said in the March debate. “I just have to do the best I can” and “hope that people see that I am fighting for them.”
And what happened in the last week when President Obama suggested an ”advance” in his Affordable Care Act? President Obama joined the chorus of Democrats calling for the creation of a government run health insurance program as Obamacare is facing growing problems.
And now our President, in an article published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the president called for Congress to revisit the “public option” for Obamacare in areas where few insurers offer coverage.
“Some parts of the country have struggled with limited insurance market competition for many years, which is one reason that, in the original debate over health reform, Congress considered and I supported including a Medicare-like public plan,” Obama wrote in the piece.
A public option would mean a government run health insurance plan.
“Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government,” the president wrote.
Obama’s call comes days after presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton voiced support for a public option, in a nod to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who wanted the federal government to take over providing health care coverage for all Americans.
Some Democrats have long wanted to develop a government-sponsored health plan that would insure Americans under the age of 65, but they have never succeeded.
Instead, Obamacare funded the creation of non-profit co-op insurers to provide consumers with alternatives. But more than half of them have failed since their debut in 2014, undone mainly by enrollees’ unexpectedly high medical use. Other insurers — particularly UnitedHealthcare (UNH) — have announced they are pulling out of Obamacare, further restricting consumers’ choices.
Residents in 664 counties, most of them rural, may only have one insurer to choose from in 2017, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation review. That’s up from 225 counties this year. Obama notes that 12% of enrollees live in areas with only one or two insurers.
Three years after Obamacare’s exchanges opened for business, the program is facing challenges. Look at the great number of state Co-Op’s that are bankrupt or on the brink of insolvency and the eventual closing of programs.
Many insurers found enrollees have higher health care needs than expected, forcing them to hike rates. A recent Kaiser study found the benchmark silver plan premiums are projected to rise 10% for 2017, on average, for a 40-year-old consumer in 14 major cities. That’s double the 5% increase for 2016 policies, but it could change since state regulators often reduce insurers’ rate requests.
In the JAMA article, Obama made several other recommendations for improving Obamacare. He called on the 19 states who have not expanded Medicaid to do so and on Congress to increase financial assistance to make Obamacare coverage more affordable. And he said Congress should help reduce the cost of prescription drugs by requiring drug makers to disclose their production and development costs, increasing the rebates manufacturers must give for drugs prescribed to certain Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and allowing the federal government to negotiate prices for certain high-cost medications.
The President hailed Obamacare for reducing the uninsured rate from 16% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015 and providing more comprehensive coverage for millions of Americans. He also credited health reform for helping slow the growth rate of health care costs in recent years.
So, why go to the public option? Things are not rosy in DC and across the nation in health care.
And if you all remember, I predicted that this was all going to happen and that this system was filled with flaws and lack of financial sustainability.
You know, I don’t particularly like Mr. Trump, but seeing what Hillary has in mind for our future has me scared.
If you all agree with Ms. Clinton and support her health care policies……be prepared for a two tiered system with lots of waiting for your care and limitation of services and higher taxes!