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Leading American Healthcare Experts Press Congress to Act Quickly on Health Reform

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 400 of the nation's most respected health care leaders today issued a joint Open Letter to Congress declaring that the health care system is in crisis and is unsustainable and calling on Congress to act now on meaningful reforms. They state that Congress has a moral and ethical obligation to improve healthcare for all our citizens now.

The Open Letter identifies eight important policy changes that effective health reform legislation must contain, at a minimum. Necessary provisions include expanding coverage, promoting competition in health insurance, assuring affordability, and covering preventive services. The letter also counters distortions about current legislation put forward by "a small but vocal minority" in an effort to scare citizens about health reform.

Open Letter co-signer, noted Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt, Ph.D., emphasized the need for all Americans to understand that they face serious health care problems even if they are currently insured through their employer. "Many middle class Americans still seem unaware that they are sailing into a perfect storm in health care, or they falsely believe that they can weather that storm on their own," he observed.

"Total spending on health care for a typical privately insured American family now is $16,700.... It will double again by 2019. Wages and salaries, on the other hand, are rising at less than 3 percent per year. A high school student can figure out how long it will take before more and more middle class Americans will be left on their own by their employers in health care in the decade ahead.... The nation's middle class also must ask itself whether it can weather the brewing financial storm on its own, without the benefit of health reform," Dr. Reinhardt added.

The President of the Federation of American Hospitals, Charles N. Kahn III, stressed the importance of quick Congressional action. "I'm gratified to join this eminent list of healthcare experts who recognize the numerous reasons for the Congress to act now on health reform," he remarked. "Americans need to be assured of affordable health care coverage and the kind of quality care that they deserve and should expect. That is why it is time to act."

"We're at a historic moment," commented Dr. Donald Berwick, President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and a longtime leader in improving healthcare quality. "Lower cost, better care, and greater health for our communities are achievable -- all at the same time.... The price of achieving this is change -- the status quo health care system simply cannot get the job done. We need policy-makers -- now -- to create the environment that makes change possible, attractive, and a formula for organizational success."

Health economist Stuart Altman, Ph.D., of Brandeis University, who advised Presidents Nixon and Clinton on health reform, stressed the importance of this moment.

"As an active participant in the ill-fated attempts at national health reform by both the Nixon (1974) and Clinton (1994) administrations, I know how easy it is for Congress to walk away from tough decisions and how devastating such actions can be for millions of Americans. We cannot let this happen again. Ideology on both the left and right must be put aside to solve perhaps the most important social problem facing this country."

Judy Feder, Ph.D., of Georgetown University, said, "All of the bills before the Congress would take great strides toward improving the quality and affordability of health care for all Americans. There may be legitimate differences over how to deal with the pressing problems facing our health care system, but now is the time for the Congress to work through those differences and deliver meaningful health reform for the American People."

Dr. Peter Budetti, Bartlett Professor of Public Health of the University of Oklahoma, believes that "The reason that more than 400 health care experts across the political spectrum have united in this effort is simple -- we've studied the problems for many years; we know what the solutions are; and we agree that now is the time for our elected representatives to put that knowledge into effect and turn things around, or face moving from crisis to catastrophe in healthcare."

Dr. Clifton Gaus, President of Health Reform USA noted that "I have been involved in the Nixon, Ford, Carter and Clinton Administrations working on the same issues, and while many improvements to access and quality have occurred, the ultimate goal of comprehensive Health Reform have eluded us for 40 years. It is time for the Congress to finish the job."

"For more than 25 years I have been involved in national health reform efforts -- including several roles in the Reagan and Bush '41 Administrations," noted Dr. William L. Roper, Dean of the School of Medicine, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and CEO of the UNC Health Care System at the University of North Carolina. "Today, in my work in a public academic health center, I see first-hand every day the cost, access and quality problems we have in America. The time for action is long overdue. Our leaders need to get national health reform done -- this year."

"America spends almost twice as much per person for health care as any other country in the world, but the system we have is not delivering the health results our people deserve," said Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, President of The New York Academy of Medicine. "We know what we have to do to change this: provide coverage to all of our citizens; avoid unnecessary illness by making prevention a priority; and create incentives to improve the quality of care for those who are sick. All of these steps are at the core of virtually every health reform proposal under consideration; now is the time to act."

The Open Letter was organized by Health Reform USA, Inc, a voluntary non-profit 501 (C)(4) education and advocacy organization ( It was produced entirely by health care experts volunteering their time and resources; it has no ties to any political party or special interest group. The letter and the names of more than 400 signatories are posted on the website:

SOURCE Health Reform USA, Inc
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