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It’s common-knowledge that our health care system is broken.  But, here is a fact from a recent report by Families USA that underscores just how bad things have gotten. Over the last two years, one-third of all Americans under the age of 65 went without health coverage. This stark statistic underscores the urgent need for national health reform.

Right now, our system leaves far too many Americans uninsured and at risk to the high costs of treatment if they get sick.  In 2007 and 2008, nearly 87 million non-elderly Americans were, at some point, uninsured. Almost three-fourths went without coverage for at least six months, and more than 6 in 10 went without insurance for nine months or longer. Over the past two years, a shocking 2.4 million New Jerseyans were uninsured at some point.  With more and more Americans out of work, the ranks of the uninsured are swelling. That’s why we need health care reform right now - to strengthen our middle-class and protect people when they lose their jobs and are at their most vulnerable.  

However, the news isn’t all bleak.  We’re making real progress in Washington by bringing about the change everyone asked for on Election Day last November.  We’re turning words into action and hope into accomplishments.  President Obama recently signed into law the long-overdue Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, making a down payment on ensuring access to affordable care for each and every American. Providing health care for our children should be a moral obligation, but it is also financially smart. Healthier children lead to healthier and more productive adults. This results in savings later on – both economically and in terms of overall quality of life.  

Here in New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine, State Senator Joe Vitale and others interested in progressive health care reform have committed to expanding Family Care - New Jersey's CHIP program - by $33 billion over the next 4 1/2 years.  Nonetheless, while this is a huge step in the right direction, we still need comprehensive health care reform for Americans of all ages. As the Families USA report makes clear, we must make health care work better.  It starts by making insurance more affordable, more effective and more efficient.

In Congress, I am working leaders in The House and others to craft what will likely be the most momentous health care reform legislation since the establishment of Medicare. We believe that access to quality health care is a right, not a privilege. And now is the time for real, lasting reform.  In these tough economic times, we need to fix the system so everyone can have the coverage they deserve.

President Obama has outlined certain principles he wants included in healthcare reform, but has left it to Congress to work out the details.  And as Congress begins its deliberations on the matter, I hope we can count on your help to battle back against ideologues who cling to worn out mantras against government programs - such as those who attack SCHIP and our attempts to expand insurance to those who need help the most. We can’t let obstructionists turn back the clock on the progress we’re making. By expanding health care coverage we are also making our middle class stronger.  

I need your help to reform the system.  And I hope you will join us with our statewide effort 'Making Health Care Work For New Jersey.'  So please visit my website to share your stories and ideas on how to help us create a healthier future for all our families.

(Cross-posted at Blue Jersey)

Originally posted to Congressman Frank Pallone on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:03 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We've got your back, Congressman. (9+ / 0-)

    But you will have to keep us informed, and let us know what specific actions will assist you.

    Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of the way before it is understood.

    by Granny Doc on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:07:52 PM PDT

  •  Congressman Pallone, (12+ / 0-)

    Are you going to advocate for a public option pegged to Medicare and Medicaid in the plan for reform?  I hope so.

  •  Congressman (14+ / 0-)

    why do we have to reach 65 years of age to have a "choice" to sign on to a public health insurance option. I don't want any private insurance, and I'm supposed to have "choices" remember? The choices I have right now I don't want.

    We used to elect politicians that mirrored the people, now we elect politicians that mirror the corporations.

    by rsie on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:12:42 PM PDT

  •   First of all, Congressman Pallone, (5+ / 0-)

    backup that statistics that over the last two years 1/3 of all American under the age of 65 went without health insurance.

       Second, cost control is the absolute basis of any health reform. Access is great, but unless costs are controlled, no one will be able to afford health coverage. No mention of cost control in your diary.

       It's great that you and other House leaders are working so diligently for health care reform. Now tell us how you and others will overcome the explosion of lobbyists that want to kill health care reform or, if necessary, keep it to an absolute minimum.

    •  Guess the left figures it can ignore (0+ / 0-)

      the private, mostly for profit, health care delivery system that a) does not have the capacity to add 60 million additional patients and b)is unaffordable for at least 2/3rds of Americans.  Ignore it because single-payer isn't going to happen.  Once again the feds will tweak the system and throw more federal dollars at and hope that it doesn't all tumble down while they're in office.

      What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

      by Marie on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:33:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   There are two tests (7+ / 0-)

        of valid, affordable health care. It must have a single payer component. Now over 28 cents of every health dollar goes to administrative, marketing and executive pay (very high executive pay). A single payer plan would put that money into patient care for the entire nation with very little additional cost.

           The second test is whether a new health plan will fully utilize nurse practioners and physicians assistants. The number of primary care physicians now in the U.S. will not be able handle the increased patient load with universal health care. Using very competent N.P.'s and P.A.'s on a much larger scale is a logical adjunct to a health care system that will be both affordable and available. (How long did you have to wait to see a physician for a physical?)

        •  Socialized medicine is even more (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pris from LA

          affordable.  Insurance (and single payer is insurance) for regular, routine and necessary (in a modern/civilized society) is an irrational concept.

          Whatever makes you think that the 28% of health care dollars now spent on administration would be available in a "single payer" system?  Do you really think that the employers and employees screaming about health insurance costs aren't looking to reduce their costs?

          No disagreement on you second point.  However, those most upset about the current system, those denied coverage, aren't looking for primary care.  It's possible that we don't have enough higher cost/tech medical resources to satisfy all that demand either.  

          What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

          by Marie on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 04:24:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And your better idea is? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Leave things as they are?

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:03:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The for-profit "insurers" (0+ / 0-)

        need to go away.

        And they are going away, thank God.  They're getting less and less affordable, so people are just doing without insurance.

        -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

        by neroden on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:53:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Special interests won't hold us back (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A little over a month ago, I was at the White House Health Reform Summit. I couldn’t believe how Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, private sector leaders from the insurance companies to the unions, and everyday citizens were almost in unanimous agreement that our health system was seriously broken.  Agreeing that we have a problem and that we must act is an important first step that shouldn’t go over-looked.

      I’m reminded of the last attempt at comprehensive health reform during the Clinton Administration and how all the different stakeholders felt disengaged with the process and ultimately, health reform failed.  This time, President Obama has recognized that only by engaging everyone- can we truly come to an agreement on comprehensive health care reform.

      But I’m not saying we will all agree all the time.  Of course, the devil will be in the details and as we start to drill down I suspect lines will start to be drawn.  We will not let special interests hold us back.  For far too long their voices have permeated Washington.  But change has finally come to the Capital and the voices of hardworking American families will finally be heard.  

  •  Public option (11+ / 0-)

    If there is no public option in the plan, it isn't reform.

  •  Hr 676 (9+ / 0-)

    Will you be holding hearings on HR 676?

  •  Congressman Pallone, why do we (18+ / 0-)

    Allow an industry to exist - that would be the health insurance industry to be specific - to profit from denying Americans healthcare?  That is, after all, what we're dealing with at the end of the day: A business that gets to decide for itself if you're profitable enough to cover at all. If not, too bad... no health care for you!

    And even if condescends to cover someone, they can - and do - go back on their promises and fight tooth and nail to deny coverage whenever possible, all while floating a sea of bureaucracy that is a constant pain in the butt to ever practicing physician - and insured patient - in the US.

    The health insurance industry cannot survive without denying some people healthcare.  As a result, Americans DIE, every day. All so these companies can make money.

    I don't believe that's acceptable in a civilized society. We very much need single-payer healthcare in this country. Thanks for listening.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:23:39 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for stopping by, Congressman (8+ / 0-)

    We appreciate your efforts to support meaningful health care reform this year, including the public option.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm just a piano player, but tonight God is in the house." --Fats Waller, upon recognizing Art Tatum in the crowd

    by wildcat6 on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:24:23 PM PDT

    •  The health care system is fine; it's the funding (0+ / 0-)

      mechanism that's flawed.  What we need is a Universal Fund for Healing that's made up of all the money in the various pots (Medicare, VA, DoD, Workmen's comp, Auto medical liability, homeowner's injury liability, etc.)

      How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

      by hannah on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:29:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope. (5+ / 0-)

        The current system is crazy in so many ways. Examples:

        1. Develop a pre-existing condition, then try to change jobs. Kennedy-Kassebaum says they have to offer you insurance, but puts no limit on the premium. Thus they offer you insurance at a premium only Bill Gates could afford.
        1. Become disabled, get on Social Security disability, and you get Medicare. Great! BUT -- Medicare kicks in 29 months after your disability starts. In the meantime you may or may not qualify for COBRA (it's complicated), but you're too sick to work -- how are you supposed to pay your COBRA premium?

        I could go on and on.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:07:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's the *funding* system.... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, HeyMikey, Pris from LA, Aquagranny911

          Our scheme of having doctors and hospitals would work fine, if they were all paid by a SINGLE PAYER the way they are in Canada (for instance).  There, you just walk in to any office and you can see a doctor, same day, no hassle!  Seriously!  

          It's the US billing "system" which is a complete and utter disaster from beginning to end.

          -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

          by neroden on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:52:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Pricing is screwed up too. Every little procedure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pris from LA

        is now charged-- if you go for a simple ear cleaning you'll be charged (or your insurance will be) for an office visit, a cleaning to each ear separately charged, and other possible charges. It's insane. Why do you think it costs $4000 to have a simple dental bridge??????

        NO, hannah, the system is not fine. Your correct most of the problems are with funding but the distortions that creates are affecting every aspect of delivery and access. If you have a pre existing condition you're screwed, if you get an illness your insurance doesn't like your premiums will skyrocket and/or they'll drop you and no one else will cover you. What if you have diabetes?

        And the incentives are all screwed up for research, development, cure, personnell needed. Why do you think there's a shortage of primary care physicians-- no money in it.

        Not trying to flame you, your post has merit, but just pointing out the ramifications.

        Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

        by doinaheckuvanutjob on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 03:21:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the point is to keep the conversation going (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and identify what really needs to be fixed.   "single payer" is a bit of a misnomer because everybody's going to be contributing to the pot.

          "single payer" is a bit like "choice"--a designation that makes it easy for opponents to argue ideology, rather than focus on the facts.

          "single payer" makes it possible for health care to be lumped in with the "one worlders'," "loss of national sovereignty," "government monopoly" rant, when what needs to be addressed is the 30% middlemen who not only insist on taking a cut out of every health care dollar for NO added value, and also manage to screw the delivery system up.

          The health insurance fraternity is no different from the financial brokers who have managed to blow the economy up.  Whatever expertise they were supposed to bring to the table has evaporated in a haze of greed and speculation.

          While I appreciate that there's a certain segment of the population whose sympathy for other people's suffering motivates their support for a change, but the agenda is more likely to be set by the middle men and that's what needs to be destroyed.  Tea and sympathy won't do it.  On the other hand, perhaps the tea-baggers have opened up a useful theme.

          The conservative prescription for health care = tea and sympathy.

          I think I like it.

          How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

          by hannah on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 02:31:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding health care funding (0+ / 0-)

        According to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States spent $2.2 trillion on health care in 2007, or $7,421 per person.  This comes to 16.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is nearly twice the average of other developed nations.  If health care costs continue to grow at their current rate, they will account for 25% of GDP in 2025 and 49% in 2082.  Clearly, this level of health care spending is not sustainable.

        We need to figure out how to change the trajectory of health care costs.  Bending the cost curve, even in the slightest degree, will help mitigate further growth and generate significant savings to our health care system.  The difficult part is figuring out how.

        I agree completely, that part of the problem is how we pay for or fund health care services.  There is an old saying, "you get what you pay for".  Right now, our system incentivizes expensive, fragmented, and episode-based care.  We don’t incentivize care coordination, chronic disease management, and preventive primary-care.

        So it should come as little surprise that as we pay for more and more services, health care costs continue to rise and quality suffers.  But if we can shift our health care delivery system to one that stresses preventive services that increases the quality of care,  it will help drive down costs for patients, providers and payers.

        Reforming the health care delivery system is the one area where we can really make a difference that goes beyond what any other country has done and it can be the difference to why comprehensive health care reform can be sustainable.

    •  speaking of "stopping by" (0+ / 0-)

      see any other posts by the Congressman on this diary?

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 05:16:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Congressman Pallone, if not national single-payer (10+ / 0-)

    ...then compromise if we must with the Obama administration proposal of a public option but lets get this national shame fixed in one integrated and sane single solution.

    We need national insurance. For any remaining private insurance it has to be regulated for community rating, guaranteed issue, and enforced. These regulations are required to protect those who bought insurance under the guise of coverage but who receive junk in their times of need.

    New Jersey is one of the most prosperous and affluent states in the country and still in NJ medicine is controlled based on spread sheets and profit goals. Please, Congressman Pallone, support real, sustainable, affordable coverage for all Americans.

    HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

    by kck on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 01:31:32 PM PDT

  •  PUBLIC OPTION (8+ / 0-)

    we start from there..

    otherwise its a waste of my energy to even debate it anymore.

  •  Objections to public option clarified. (10+ / 0-)

    Objections to the public option boil down to this: private insurers can't compete with it because IT'S TOO EFFICIENT. IT'S TOO AFFORDABLE. IT DOESN'T TAKE ENOUGH MONEY OUT OF THE POCKETS OF ORDINARY AMERICANS.

    I am not making this up.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:11:10 PM PDT

  •  Good Luck, Congressman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pris from LA, Aquagranny911

    I'll be looking forward to seeing what comes out of the process.  

    "The future will not belong to the cynics. The future will not belong to those who stand on the sidelines"-Paul Wellstone

    by Sauceman on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:17:51 PM PDT

  •  Right On! With you all the way! n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  if there isn't at minimum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pris from LA

    a universally accessible public option, don't expect any progressive support, opposition is far more likely.

    If you want massive and enthusiastic progressive support, make it single-payer.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 05:14:08 PM PDT

  •  HR 676 (0+ / 0-)

    could use another co-sponsor.  Actions speak louder, they say....

    Dr. Aaron Roland is a family physician in Burlingame, CA.

    by doctoraaron on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 08:04:13 AM PDT

  •  On single-payer care (0+ / 0-)

    Many people who don't want to see health reform happen this year have come out in opposition to including a public health insurance plan for Americans to choose from for their health coverage.  They say that a public health insurance plan is one step closer to government run health care.  That's nonsense.  A public health insurance plan will provide balance to the marketplace by promoting greater choice for American families and competition among health insurance plans.  We can't let our opponents defeat us with their old playbooks and scare tactics about government run health care.  

  •  We need health care, not insurance (0+ / 0-)

    You know the difference?

    We need "single payer" or "universal health care".

    Attempting to force poor people to buy insurance, and leaving the insurance companies in the loop isn't going to solve our problems.

    Thank you for caring, and for working on this issue.

    Be good to each other. It matters.

    by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 02:07:21 PM PDT

  •  As Congress BEGINS deliberating? (0+ / 0-)
    It turns out that Congress has been deliberating for quite a while--under a veil of secrecy. Nor am I encouraged by the fact that single payer proponent Rep. Jon Conyers wasn't even originally invited to a health care summit meeting. Most ironic of all is that none of is necessary.

    You KNOW what you have to do. You KNOW that what has broken our health care system is non-regulation, the profit motive, and the buying of political influence by lobbyists. Get rid of those things, and we'll be fine. The only way to get rid of  them is through a single-payer system. America survived the passing of the gaslight and the horse and buggy, it can survive the passing of for-profit health insurance. So stop talking in circles and get 'er done!

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