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BrandonTO416

Study says we need universal healthcare

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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor..._insurance_dc_2

U.S. Advisers Call for Universal Health Care

Wed Jan 14,12:19 PM ET Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saying 18,000 people die every year because they lack health insurance, federal advisers said on Wednesday the U.S. government must come up with universal health coverage by 2010.

The Institute of Medicine (news - web sites), an independent, non-profit group which advises Congress and the federal government on health matters, said taxpayers are paying for 43 million uninsured Americans anyway -- and footing a much bigger bill than they would if those people had decent health care.

"The president and Congress should strive to achieve universal health coverage in the United States by 2010," the institute said in a statement.

"Uninsured Americans get about half the medical care of those with health insurance," it added. "As a result, they tend to be sicker and die sooner."

The institute, one of the National Academies of Sciences, said it was releasing the report in an attempt to influence the November elections.

"This report appears at the beginning of an election year," institute president Dr. Harvey Fineberg told a news conference. He said he hoped health insurance would be a major national issue. "This report ... is our contribution to a reinvigorated discussion," he said.

Congress has struggled with the issue for more than a decade.

Since 1994, when then-President Bill Clinton (news - web sites)'s comprehensive health care initiative collapsed in Congress, lawmakers have adopted a piecemeal approach to the problem of the uninsured, creating programs to expand coverage for children or make it easier for people to stay insured when they switch jobs.

And late last year the Republican-led Congress added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare in legislation that Democrats are already attacking. But lawmakers have not tackled another sweeping initiative.

It is costing money, the institute said. "Tax dollars paid for an estimated 85 percent of the roughly $35 billion in unreimbursed medical care for the uninsured in 2001," it said.

It said some hospitals had closed because of the burden of having to treat very sick people for free, leaving some communities underserved.

"The United States loses the equivalent of $65 billion to $130 billion annually as a result of the poor health and early deaths of uninsured adults," the institute said.

"HEALTH CARE COVERAGE SHOULD BE UNIVERSAL"

The institute said it would not recommend any particular form of universal health care. Congress may choose to extend the Medicare and Medicaid programs, for instance -- the joint federal-state health insurance plans for the elderly, poor and disabled.

But it laid out several principles that should be followed.

"Health care coverage should be universal," it said. "Health care coverage should be continuous ... affordable to individuals and families ... affordable and sustainable to society," it added. "And it should be "effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered and equitable."

Former Republican senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole agreed it was time for some form of universal health care but said the idea faced formidable obstacles.

"How do you pay for it and how do you make it work?" he asked at the press conference. "The federal government can't carry the entire load for everything."

Dole noted that some states had begun designing their own systems, and said people also had to take personal responsibility. For instance, he said he discovered a woman working in his home had no health coverage. A Dole staffer later said Dole had bought the woman private health insurance.

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Yes, the current system is definitely broken. I would love to find the magical answer, a way that does not discourage research and individual business investment, but still allows coverage for everyone to ensure that we all have the opportunity to get proper medical care.

Difficult balancing act, but one we certanily need to figure out.

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We need some sort of universal healthcare, but how will it be paid for? The only way to do it is to raise taxes. The only reason other countires are able to have things such as universal healthcare & a government-paid college education is that they pay taxes much higher than what we pay. My aunt & uncle live in the Netherlands, where there is universal healthcare & government paid college....they say that their taxes eat up 53% of their income annually!

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