WASHINGTONSenator John Breaux and Congresswoman Donna Christianson, speaking at the National Patient Advocate Foundation’s Patient Congress III, called for comprehensive, available health care and health insurance for all, regardless of age, income, or employment status.
"Unfortunately, health care today depends on which ‘box’ you’re in," said Sen. Breaux (D-La). "If you’re poor, you’re in the Medicaid box. If you’re working, your employer often covers it. If you’re a veteran, there’s the VA. If you’re a poor child, there’s CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program], and if you’re old, you have Medicare."
The problem, Sen. Breaux said, is borne by those outside these boxes: from the self-employed to the working poor.
Health insurance should be just as mandatory as automobile insurance, he said, but with the federal government subsidizing premiums for low-income workers and the poor. "Having everyone in the pool with no exclusions would reduce the risk and eliminate the differential that exists now," he said.
His views were reinforced by Rep. Christianson (D-Virgin Islands). "Our ultimate goal is universal health insurance coverage, funded for the poor up to 400% of the poverty level, with 100% access to care and zero exclusions," she said.
She linked individual and economic well being, saying that the prosperity of the 1990s was based on increased productivity by average working people. Since productivity is, in part, affected by workers’ health, the health of each citizen is critical to that of the nation.