March 29, 2007
The Honorable Fortney (Pete) Stark
Chairman, Subcommittee on Health
Committee on Ways and Means
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Stark:
Congratulations on the introduction of the AmeriCare Healthcare Act of 2007, legislation which would permanently guarantee access to quality healthcare for every American.
Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, strongly endorses your legislation, which ensures that every American has health insurance at least as comprehensive as Medicare. The cost of healthcare and the problem of obtaining stable, affordable health insurance is the most pressing consumer issue facing American families. Your legislation would at long last guarantee health security for all Americans, and that would mean a healthier America in the years to come.
We particularly appreciate the provisions in the bill which provide catastrophic out-of-pocket protection for individuals and families. By using Medicare administrative procedures and payment rates, and by using the government to negotiate for drug prices (similar to the way the Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates today), we believe your bill will help slow health inflation and reduce unnecessary and unproductive administrative costs. By requiring that everyone contribute on a progressive basis to the cost of healthcare, your bill will stop cost shifting and help American business maintain their employer-provided health insurance.
Any family which has health insurance equal to or better than the adjusted Medicare package of benefits would, of course, be able to keep that coverage and would not be required to participate in AmeriCare. But any family that, for whatever reason, loses private coverage or is temporarily unable to afford their current coverage will know that they will always have access to quality health insurance through AmeriCare. In short, this bill will bring healthcare peace of mind to all American consumers.
We note that a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund evaluated different health insurance reform plans, including a version of AmeriCare that you introduced last summer (and that we endorsed at that time). Your proposal was the only one of that eliminated the problem of un-insurance in our society while also reducing total healthcare spending by $60 billion a year. Again, congratulations for such a well-thought our and comprehensive plan, and we look forward to working with you on the enactment of this legislation.
Director, Health Policy Analysis
Senior Policy Analyst