Nixon’s Plan for Health Reform, in His Own Words - Kaiser Health News
Robert Reich and others have pointed out the policy basis for the ACA has deep Republican roots, fron Pres. Nixon on up to Mitt Romney. So I went looking for the proposal, and it appears Kaiser medical has put it on their web site. I clipped in as much as I could, as a public policy speech from a President, not subject to copyright. It’s a public interest, public domain speech.
Nixon’s Plan For Health Reform, In His Own Words
Sep 03, 2009
President Richard Nixon’s Special Message to the Congress Proposing a Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
February 6, 1974
From The American Presidency Project, University of California at Santa Barbara
To the Congress of the United States:
One of the most cherished goals of our democracy is to assure every American an equal opportunity to lead a full and productive life.
Obama’s Health Care Dilemma Evokes Memories Of 1974
In the last quarter century, we have made remarkable progress toward that goal, opening the doors to millions of our fellow countrymen who were seeking equal opportunities in education, jobs and voting.
Now it is time that we move forward again in still another critical area: health care.
Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.
Three years ago, I proposed a major health insurance program to the Congress, seeking to guarantee adequate financing of health care on a nationwide basis. That proposal generated widespread discussion and useful debate. But no legislation reached my desk.
Today the need is even more pressing because of the higher costs of medical care. Efforts to control medical costs under the New Economic Policy have been Inept with encouraging success, sharply reducing the rate of inflation for health care. Nevertheless, the overall cost of health care has still risen by more than 20 percent in the last two and one-half years, so that more and more Americans face staggering bills when they receive medical help today:
—Across the Nation, the average cost of a day of hospital care now exceeds $110.
—The average cost of delivering a baby and providing postnatal care approaches $1,000.
—The average cost of health care for terminal cancer now exceeds $20,000.
For the average family, it is clear that without adequate insurance, even normal care can ‘be a financial burden while a catastrophic illness can mean catastrophic debt.
Beyond the question of the prices of health care, our present system of health care insurance suffers from two major flaws :
First, even though more Americans carry health insurance than ever before, the 25 million Americans who remain uninsured often need it the most and are most unlikely to obtain it. They include many who work in seasonal or transient occupations, high-risk cases, and those who are ineligible for Medicaid despite low incomes.
Second, those Americans who do carry health insurance often lack coverage which is balanced, comprehensive and fully protective:
—Forty percent of those who are insured are not covered for visits to physicians on an out-patient basis, a gap that creates powerful incentives toward high cost care in hospitals;
—Few people have the option of selecting care through prepaid arrangements offered by Health Maintenance Organizations so the system at large does not benefit from the free choice and creative competition this would offer;
—Very few private policies cover preventive services;
—Most health plans do not contain built-in incentives to reduce waste and inefficiency. The extra costs of wasteful practices are passed on, of course, to consumers; and
—Fewer than half of our citizens under 65—and almost none over 65—have major medical coverage which pays for the cost of catastrophic illness.
These gaps in health protection can have tragic consequences. They can cause people to delay seeking medical attention until it is too late. Then a medical crisis ensues, followed by huge medical bills—or worse. Delays in treatment can end in death or lifelong disability.
COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN (CHIP)
Early last year, I directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to prepare a new and improved plan for comprehensive health insurance. That plan, as I indicated in my State of the Union message, has been developed and I am presenting it to the Congress today. I urge its enactment as soon as possible.
The plan is organized around seven principles:
First, it offers every American an opportunity to obtain a balanced, comprehensive range of health insurance benefits;
Second, it will cost no American more than he can afford to pay;
Third, it builds on the strength and diversity of our existing public and private systems of health financing and harmonizes them into an overall system;
Fourth, it uses public funds only where needed and requires no new Federal taxes;
Fifth, it would maintain freedom of choice by patients and ensure that doctors work for their patient, not for the Federal Government.
Sixth, it encourages more effective use of our health care resources;
And finally, it is organized so that all parties would have a direct stake in making the system work—consumer, provider, insurer, State governments and the Federal Government.
BROAD AND BALANCED PROTECTION FOR ALL AMERICANS
Upon adoption of appropriate Federal and State legislation, the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan would offer to every American the same broad and balanced health protection through one of three major programs:
—Employee Health Insurance, covering most Americans and offered at their place of employment, with the cost to be shared by the employer and employee on a basis which would prevent excessive burdens on either;
—Assisted Health Insurance, covering low-income persons, and persons who would be ineligible for the other two programs, with Federal and State government paying those costs beyond the means of the individual who is insured; and,
—An improved Medicare Plan, covering those 65 and over and offered through a Medicare system that is modified to include additional, needed benefits.
One of these three plans would be available to every American, but for everyone, participation in the program would be voluntary.
The benefits offered by the three plans would be identical for all Americans, regardless of age or income. Benefits would be provided for:
—physicians’ care in and out of the hospital;
—prescription and life-saving drugs;
—laboratory tests and X-rays;
—ambulance services; and,
—other ancillary health care.
There would be no exclusions of coverage based on the nature of the illness. For example, a person with heart disease would qualify for benefits as would a person with kidney disease.
In addition, CHIP would cover treatment for mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction, whether that treatment were provided in hospitals and physicians’ offices or in community based settings.
Certain nursing home services and other convalescent services would also be covered. For example, home health services would be covered so that long and costly stays in nursing homes could be averted where possible.
The health needs of children would come in for special attention, since many conditions, if detected in childhood, can be prevented from causing lifelong disability and learning handicaps. Included in these services for children would be:
—preventive care up to age six;
—hearing examinations; and,
—regular dental care up to age 13.
Under the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan, a doctor’s decisions could be based on the health care needs of his patients, not on health insurance coverage. This difference is essential for quality care.
Every American participating in the program would be insured for catastrophic illnesses that can eat away savings and plunge individuals and families into hopeless debt for years. No family would ever have annual out-of-pocket expenses for covered health services in excess of $1,500, and low-income families would face substantially smaller expenses.
As part of this program, every American who participates in the program would receive a Health-card when the plan goes into effect in his State. This card, similar to a credit card, would be honored by hospitals, nursing homes, emergency rooms, doctors, and clinics across the country. This card could also be used to identify information on blood type and .sensitivity to particular drugs-information which might be important in an emergency.
Bills for the services paid for with the Health-card would be sent to the insurance carrier who would reimburse the provider of the care for covered services, then bill the patient for his share, if any.
The entire program would become effective in 1976, assuming that the plan is promptly enacted by the Congress.
HOW EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE WOULD WORK
Every employer would be required to offer all full-time employees the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan. Additional benefits could then be added by mutual agreement. The insurance plan would be jointly financed, with employers paying 65 percent of the premium for the first three years of the plan, and 75 percent thereafter. Employees would pay the balance of the premiums. Temporary Federal subsidies would be used to ease the initial burden on employers who face significant cost increases.
Individuals covered by the plan would pay the first $150 in annual medical expenses. A separate $50 deductible provision would apply for out-patient drugs. There would be a maximum of three medical deductibles per family.
After satisfying this deductible limit, an enrollee would then pay for 25 percent of additional bills. However, $1,500 per year would be the absolute dollar limit on any family’s medical expenses for covered services in any one year.
As an interim measure, the Medicaid program would be continued to meet certain needs, primarily long-term institutional care. I do not consider our current approach to long-term care desirable because it can lead to overemphasis on institutional as opposed to home care. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare has undertaken a thorough study of the appropriate institutional services which should be included in health insurance and other programs and will report his findings to me.