Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Report Urges Sweeping Changes to Nation's Health Care System

By Mary Agnes Carey, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

September 25, 2006 -- By 2012, all Americans should have access to an affordable, easy-to-navigate health care system that provides them with medical coverage no matter where they work or live, according to a national commission charged with developing health care recommendations for the president and Congress.

Other recommendations the Citizens' Health Care Working Group released Monday include guaranteeing financial protection against very high health care costs and defining a set of core benefits and services for all Americans. Promoting efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of care given to Americans was another priority, as was restructuring end-of-life care so that patients can have increased access to such services in the environment they choose.

The group was created by the 2003 Medicare drug law (PL 108-173). Within 60 days from receiving the report, congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care matters must hold hearings on the recommendations.

Over 18 months, the group heard from 6,650 people who attended 84 community meetings across the nation. More than 14,000 people responded to an Internet poll. In interim recommendations the group released in June, the panel recommended universal health care by 2012.

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the Senate Finance Committee's ranking Democrat, said Monday that the report highlighted important issues that need quick attention, not only to improve the health of the American public but also to improve the nation's competitiveness abroad.

"Changes are absolutely necessary to get Americans the affordable, accessible, and high-quality system they deserve," Baucus said in a statement. "This report recommends improving the health care system by more effectively spending the nation's 2 trillion dollar health budget, and in my view the pay-for-quality approach is the right way to begin. We need to reward providers for quality of care and get the most bang for our health care buck."

Ron Pollack, executive director of the liberal-leaning consumers group Families USA, said the report "reinforces the urgency of finding solutions to the growing problem of people without heath coverage. We hope the Working Group's recommendations will inspire policymakers to take immediate and appropriate steps to achieve high-quality health care for everyone. "

Not all groups, however, were as enthusiastic about the report's recommendations. "Unfortunately, while well-intentioned, the Working Group's final recommendations have such serious flaws that they fail to provide the country with any meaningful guidance on how we might improve our health care system," said Sarah Berk, executive director of Health Care America, an advocacy group promoting private sector health care.

Janet Trautwein, chief executive officer and executive vice president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, called the report's recommendations "oversimplified" and said they would do little to help improve health care.

"I have grave concerns about the development of a core benefits package for all Americans and strongly oppose the federal government getting into the health benefit mandating business," she said.

Publication Details