Thursday, March 5, 2009

HHS Issues Special Report on Health Reform and Launches New Web Site

Americans expressed serious concerns regarding health care in a new
report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The report, Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care
Community Discussions, summarizes comments from the thousands of
Americans who hosted and participated in Health Care Community
Discussions across the country and highlights the need for immediate
action to reform health care.

The report is available on a new Web site dedicated to health reform: Unveiled today, the Web site will allow Americans
to view today's White House Health Forum, share their thoughts about
health reform with the Obama Administration and sign a statement in
support of President Obama's commitment to enacting comprehensive health
reform this year.

"This new Web site, and report ensure that when we
discuss health reform, the American people will have an equal stake in
the health reform efforts," said HHS Spokeswoman Jenny Backus.
"Sky-rocketing health care costs are creating enormous pressure on
families, on businesses and our fiscal future. The Obama Administration
is committed to taking action this year on health reform and is calling
on government, business, health care stakeholders and everyday Americans
to come together to make it happen."

In December, then President-elect Obama called on the American people to
host Health Care Community Discussions to assess the seriousness of the
problems and identify solutions. In the last eight years, health
insurance premiums have grown four times faster than wages and one
million more Americans have lost their health insurance each year.
Health care costs have forced small businesses to close their doors and
compelled corporations to ship jobs overseas.

Over 9,000 people signed up in all 50 states and the District of
Columbia to host a discussion, and thousands more participated in these
gatherings. After each Health Care Community Discussion, guests and
hosts were asked to fill out a Participant Survey and submit a group
report to the Presidential Transition Team's Web site summarizing the
group's concerns and suggestions. Group reports from 3,276 Health Care
Community Discussions as well as Participant Surveys from 30,603
participants were collected, analyzed, and are summarized in the report.

The cost of health care services and health insurance was the top
concern about the health care system for 55 percent of discussion
participants. Participants also cited lack of emphasis on prevention,
pre-existing conditions limiting insurance access, and the quality of
care as key concerns. A qualitative analysis found that the Health Care
Community Discussions focused on concerns about a "broken" health
system, access to health insurance and services, rising premiums and
drug costs, medical mistakes and the system not being "for them."

Health Care Community Discussion group participants agreed on the values
and direction that should guide reform. They called for a system that
is fair, patient-centered and choice-oriented, simple and efficient, and
comprehensive. Participants also offered a wide range of specific
solutions, including making health insurance more accessible through an
insurance "exchange" or a public plan option, creating scorecards on
quality and cost, improving the nutritional content of school lunches,
implementing electronic medical records and creating an AmeriCorps for
health workers.

Today's report also includes a series of personal testimonials from
Health Care Community Discussion participants who expressed their
concern about the state of health care in America. A farmer from Enid,
Okla., explained, "I have spent my life's savings on [health care], and
now I am refused care at our local hospital because I cannot pay. I may
have to file bankruptcy due to this." A report from Missoula, Mont.,
commenting on policies that allow insurers to deny coverage to Americans
with pre-existing conditions said, "No mother should have to say her
daughter is 'uninsurable.'"

President Obama has committed to reforming health care this year and has
already acted to make health care more affordable and accessible.
President Obama signed a law to provide and protect health insurance for
11 million American children through the Children's Health Insurance
Program. The President also signed into law the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act which includes investments in electronic health
records, prevention, comparative effectiveness research, and health
workforce training -- foundations for a 21st century health care system.
Additionally, the President's Budget Blueprint also includes an historic
commitment to comprehensive health care reform.

A copy of Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care
Community Discussions, group reports filed by participants and hundreds
of submitted photos are available at

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