With health care dominating the agenda in Congress, the difficulties inherent in negotiating such a massive reform are clear. In the face of this challenge, some have chosen to stand on the sidelines and throw stones at today's health reform efforts -- but now, more than ever, it's critical that all players remain at the table to negotiate toward a solution that drives down costs and improves health care for all Americans.
This is not the time for policymakers and business leaders to disengage and take potshots -- be they from the right or the left. Now is the time for negotiation and compromise to secure a reform package that will slow the rate of growth in health care costs, ensure Americans can keep their existing health plans and offer assistance to small employers and individuals to find affordable coverage.
As providers of health coverage to more than 35 million Americans, the members of Business Roundtable are deeply invested in comprehensive health care reform. Not only do our members understand the problems of the U.S. health care system, but we also have a vision for solutions to those challenges. We are committed to working with Congress and the Administration on a bipartisan basis to achieve the reforms critical to moving our nation toward a more sustainable and accessible framework that promotes quality and affordability.
Some say the current economic situation is a reason to put health reform on hold. We believe just the opposite. According to the results of our Health Care Value Comparability Study, America's G-5 competitors -- Canada, Japan, Germany, Britain and France -- spend just 63 cents for every dollar our nation spends on health care. Yet, the health of our workforce lags behind theirs in a composite measure. This study underlines the need for innovations and reforms to build lasting economic recovery and make the marketplace function better.
With those results in mind, we created a health reform plan designed to put our nation on the path to a competitive health care system. Our plan rests on four pillars essential to realizing legislation that is both workable and practical:
- First, we must create greater consumer value in the marketplace by using health IT and empowering consumers with more information about quality health care;
- Second, we must provide affordable insurance options for all Americans by fostering the creation of an all-inclusive private market for small employers and individuals to obtain affordable health insurance;
- Third, we must ensure all Americans take an active role in their health care by placing an obligation on citizens to obtain coverage through their employer or the private market; and
- Finally, we must offer assistance to low-income Americans to ensure they have coverage and create a stable and secure public safety net.
The adoption of these principles is critical to ensuring passage of viable health reform legislation through Congress by year's end. Legislation that "goes it alone" without an honest dialogue among all actors will never make it to the President's desk, and that's not in anyone's best interest.
The continued input and support of business leaders -- the people who provide coverage to Americans on a daily basis -- in the health care conversation is essential to crafting bipartisan legislation that is workable, practical and possible. We're engaged in the conversation and will continue to work as an honest broker in search of health care solutions for all Americans.