Issues: Health Care

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the first comprehensive health care reform law in our nation’s history. By insuring an additional 32 million Americans and reducing the national deficit by $143 billion over 10 years, this historic legislation is the first step forward in making health care a right for all Americans—not an expensive privilege for some.
The new health care law bars insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, health status and gender.  It provides small businesses and working families with tax credits to help purchase insurance.  And it strengthens Medicare and closes the prescription drug “doughnut hole."

Reform for the American People

Health Reform at a Glance:

Benefits for Patients and Consumer Protection
·         Guaranteed Benefits 
·         Prevention & Wellness 
Creating an Exchange
Coverage and Affordability
·         Making Coverage Affordable 
·         Estimated Savings For Families 
·         Shared Responsibility
Bringing Down Cost
·         Cost Containment
Strengthening Medicare
·         Strengthening Medicare
Supporting Businesses
·         Helping Small Businesses
·         Employers and Health Reform
Health Workforce
Reform by Demographic
·         Rural America & Reform 
·         Seniors 
·         Women 
·         Young Americans 
·         Small Businesses
Paying for Reform
·         Paying for Reform
Bill Text
Supporting Documents

While the reform that was passed by Congress this year is the first national commitment to providing meaningful access to healthcare, I believe that a single-payer, universal healthcare system is the only way we can truly reshape our broken healthcare system.  Here is my proposal:
H.R. 676, “The United States National Health Care Act,”
Or “Expanded & Improved Medicare For All”
Introduced by Rep.  John Conyers, Jr.
Brief Summary of Legislation
The United States National Health Care Act (USNHC) establishes a unique American universal health insurance program with single payer financing.  The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that improves and expands the already existing Medicare program to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that all Americans will have access, guaranteed by law, to the highest quality and most cost effective health care services regardless of their employment, income or health care status. In short, health care becomes a human right. With 47 million uninsured Americans, and another 50 million who are underinsured, the time has come to change our inefficient and costly fragmented non-system of health care.
Who is Eligible
Every person living or visiting in the United States and the U.S. Territories would receive a United States National Health Insurance Card and ID number once they enroll at the appropriate location. Social Security numbers may not be used when assigning ID cards.
Health Care Services Covered
This program will cover all medically necessary services, including primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, hearing services, long term care, palliative care, podiatric care, mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment. Patients have their choice of physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics, and practices. There are no co-pays or deductibles under this act.
Conversion To A Non-Profit Health Care System
Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will continue to operate as privately entities.  However, they will be unable to issue stock.  Private health insurers shall be prohibited under this act from selling coverage that duplicates the benefits of the USNHC program.  Exceptions to this rule include coverage for cosmetic surgery, and other medically unnecessary treatments. Those workers who are displaced as the result of the transition to a non-profit health care system will be the first to be hired and retrained under this act. Furthermore, workers would receive their same salary for up to two years, and would then be eligible for unemployment benefits.  The conversion to a not-for- profit health care system will take place as soon as possible, but not to exceed a 15 year period, through the sale of U.S. treasury bonds.
Cost Containment Provisions/ Reimbursement
The USNHC program will negotiate reimbursement rates annually with physicians, allow for global budgets (monthly lump sums for operating expenses) for hospitals, and negotiate prices for prescription drugs, medical supplies and equipment. A “Medicare For All Trust Fund” will be established to ensure a dedicated stream of funding.  An annual Congressional appropriation is also authorized to ensure optimal levels of funding for the program, in particular, to ensure the requisite number of physicians and nurses need in the health care delivery system.
Families Will Pay Less
Currently, the average family of four covered under an employee health plan spends a total of $4,225 on health care annually – $2,713 on premiums and another $1,522 on medical services, drugs and supplies (Employer Health Benefits 2006 Annual Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey.)  This figure does not include the additional 1.45% Medicare payroll tax levied on employees.  A study by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Research and Policy concluded that under H.R. 676, a family of four making the median family income of $56,200 per year would pay about $2,700 for all health care costs.
Business Will Pay Less
In 2006, health insurers charged employers an average of $11,500 for a health plan for a family of four.  On average, the employer paid 74% of this premium, or $8,510 per year.  This figure does not include the additional 1.45% payroll tax levied on employers for Medicare.  Under H.R. 676, employers would pay a 4.75% payroll tax for all health care costs.  For an employee making the median family income of $56,200 per year, the employer would pay about $2,700.
The Nation Will Pay About the Same, While Covering All Americans
Savings from reduced administration, bulk purchasing, and coordination among providers will allow coverage for all Americans while reducing health care inflation in the long term.  Annual savings from enacting H.R. 676 are estimated at $387 billion (Baker).
Proposed Funding For USNHC Program
  • Maintain current federal and state funding for existing health care programs
  • Establish employer/employee payroll tax of 4.75% (includes present 1.45% Medicare tax)
  • Establish a 5% health tax on the top 5% of income earners, 10% tax on top 1% of wage earners
  • ¼ of 1% stock transaction tax
  • Close corporate tax loopholes
  • Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the highest income earners
Opposing Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security

Congressman's Statement and Related Bills