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Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Statement: Health Care America Now
Date:7/8/2008

Statement from Scott P. Serota, President and CEO Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

WASHINGTON, July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scott P. Serota, president and chief executive officer of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, issued the following statement today in response to the launch of a new healthcare coalition, Health Care America Now:

"The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association agrees strongly with the Health Care America Now coalition that everyone should have health insurance coverage and that achieving this goal should be a top priority of the next administration and Congress. Regrettably, rather than seeking to build on this shared vision and find common ground among all stakeholders, Health Care America Now is attacking health insurers, which does nothing to help build a consensus on how to address the problem of the uninsured.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies prefer to offer solutions. We have a comprehensive proposal, 'The Pathway to Covering America,' that builds on today's employer-based system and improves the quality and value of our healthcare system, while simultaneously making coverage available to everyone. While we support coverage for all, we remain concerned that a healthcare system that is unaffordable for many today will not work for even more people tomorrow. That is why our proposal not only looks at how to bring more people into the system, but how to maximize value for the more than 160 million people who currently have coverage through the employer-based system.

"To address the cost problem, our system needs more research on what drugs, devices, and procedures work well, and we must put that information quickly into the hands of providers and consumers. With an estimated 30 percent of health spending going to services that are unnecessary, duplicative, or yielding no tangible value, there is a tremendous amount of inefficiency that can be wrung from the system. Similarly, we need to change incentives to ensure that doctors, hospitals and other providers are looking comprehensively at patients' health needs - particularly the chronically ill - and not simply billing based on the volume of services. Prevention has a large role to play. More public and private funding for health and wellness programs - starting in early childhood - can help mitigate the incidence of chronic illness and allow individuals to lead fuller, more productive lives.

"We must also foster public-private coverage solutions tailored to reduce the number of uninsured in each of the major segments: those who are squeezed out by costs, those already eligible but missing out on public coverage, and those with higher incomes who opt out of coverage. All of these reform areas provide an opportunity for common ground and should be the starting point for any reform discussions.

"With nearly 80 years' experience in providing health benefits in all 50 states, the nation's Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies know the value and peace of mind that healthcare coverage provides to working families, seniors and the disabled. It is time to join together and think about real solutions. Given all that is at stake for consumers, providers, payers, and others, we look forward to a productive dialogue in the coming year to ensure that all Americans have health insurance coverage."

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 100 million individuals - one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit http://www.BCBS.com.


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SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
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