FACTBOX: Groups agree and disagree on U.S. health overhaul

by Lesley Politi on March 25, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama is pushing an ambitious overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system to help contain soaring costs and provide coverage for an estimated 46 million uninsured Americans.

There is widespread agreement among consumer and business groups that the current system is broken. But there is plenty of disagreement on how to fix it.

Here are some of the major groups involved in the debate and what they are seeking:

*AARP, the advocacy group for older Americans, seeks to make affordable healthcare coverage available to all, especially people ages 50-64, the fastest growing group of uninsured. It also wants Medicare changes that reward doctors and hospitals for quality rather than the quantity of care.

*National Federation of Independent Business says the rapidly rising cost of healthcare is a major worry for small business. Reining in care costs and insurance premiums is a top priority. The group seeks insurance market reform to create better access to affordable coverage.

*Business Roundtable represents some of the largest U.S. corporations and its members provide health coverage to more than 35 million employees. Bringing down costs is a major goal. It seeks market-based changes that promote competition and allow insurance companies to compete in multi-state regions, rather than state-by-state. It would require all Americans to obtain health insurance.

*Service Employees International Union wants a sweeping overhaul of the healthcare system to ensure coverage for all. It backs a minimum benefit that would include preventive care and long-term care that allows patients to receive care at home or in community-based settings rather than in hospitals or nursing homes.

*American Medical Association, which represents physicians, believes a major concern is the current Medicare payment structure that would cut payments to doctors by about 20 percent — although Congress has in recent years intervened to stop these decreases from taking effect.

*American Hospital Association says everyone should be required to have healthcare insurance. It backs policies that promote healthier lifestyles and wants to redesign payment structures so that primary care physicians are better rewarded for coordinating patient care.

*Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America wants an overhaul built on the existing employer-based system. It backs expanding coverage through a “public-private” approach that broadens private health insurance and uses public health programs to plug in the holes and cover the uninsured.

*America’s Health Insurance Plans seeks to reduce soaring costs. It says any guaranteed coverage with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions needs to be coupled with a mandate for individuals to get coverage. Backs refundable tax credits to help low income people afford health insurance.

(Compiled by Donna Smith, editing by Vicki Allen)

Source: www.reuters.com

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