White House hosts Iowa Health Care Forum - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

White House hosts Iowa Health Care Forum

 

DES MOINES (KWWL)  Iowa Democratic senator, Tom Harkin, delivered the opening statement today at the Iowa-White House Forum on Health Care in Des Moines. Here is Senator Harkin's entire statement:

"Good morning.  I welcome Nancy-Ann DeParle, Governor Mike Rounds, and our other out-of-state guests.  And I thank the White House and Governor Culver for convening this important forum. 

"And since Senator Jack Hatch is here, I want to congratulate him for his success in passing a visionary bill in the Iowa Senate, last Thursday, that would extend health insurance to 30,000 Iowa kids who are now uninsured.  The bill would also set up a commission to help Iowans find affordable health insurance, possibly by letting their employers join the state employees' health plan. 

"Jack, thank you for you tremendous leadership on health care here in Iowa.  And let no one doubt that the states, including Iowa, also are doing exciting things in this area.

"In my brief time, this morning, I want to talk about health reform.  We can't talk about health care reform, because you can't talk about reforming something you don't have. 


"And in the United States, today, we don't have health care system, we have sick care system.  The system and all of the incentives are focused on pills, surgery, hospitalization, and disability. 

"Dr. Dean Ornish likes to show a cartoon with two people furiously trying to mop up the floor, and above them is a sink that is overflowing, with a faucet turned on full blast. 

"As Dr. Ornish says, right now, our health system is focused on finding better ways to mop up the floor - in other words, treating people after they get sick. 

"We need to be focused on turning off that faucet.  We do that by recreating America as a genuine wellness society - one that emphasizes wellness, fitness, good nutrition, and disease prevention . . . keeping people out of the hospital in the first place. 

"That's why I have laid down a marker in this great national health reform debate.  If we pass a bill that greatly extends health insurance coverage but does nothing to implement a national prevention and wellness structure and agenda, then we will have failed the American people. 

"The good news is that we have a President who gets it. 

"In his speech to Congress last month, President Obama made it clear that the heart of his reform plan will be a sharp new emphasis on wellness and disease prevention.  As he put it: [It is time] "to make the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that's one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control."

"So the President gets it.  And the rest of us need to get it. 

"Prevention needs to be incorporated into how we extend coverage, how we reform the payment system, and how we engage in systems reform.  We need to rethink not just the way we do medicine, but also the medicine we choose to do.

"Now, let me get specific about what this means.

  • n It means that private health insurance and the Medicare and Medicaid programs must reimburse for effective preventive services. And preventive services - things like annual physicals and mammograms - must be included in any minimum standards set for a basic benefits package.
  • n We need to remove barriers to preventive services, including getting rid of co-pays and deductibles for these services.
  • n We need to change the medical school and residency curricula to include training in prevention and public health. It's hard to believe, but currently our health professionals get hardly any formal training in this area.
  • n And we need to use tax incentives to encourage employers to offer wellness programs in the workplace - things like smoking-cessation, depression screenings, and fitness programs.

"I look forward to elaborating on these things in the question-and-answer period. 

"But I repeat:  It makes no sense just to figure out a better way to pay the bills for a system that is broken and unsustainable. 

"We also have to change the system itself.  

"We need to transition from our current sick care system to a genuine health care system."

  

 

 

Powered by Frankly