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Obama Campaign Promises: Health Care

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Obama Campaign Promises: Health Care

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

At a glance, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's 2008 campaign promises for health care policies were:

  • Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All
  • New Health Initiatives, including for Autism and AIDS
  • Lower Costs for the U.S. Health Care System, including Drug Costs
Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All

Obama's Plan to Cover Uninsured Americans: Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress.

The Obama plan will have the following features:

  • Guaranteed eligibility.

  • No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.

  • Comprehensive benefits. The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.

  • Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

  • Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.

  • Easy enrollment. The new public plan will be simple to enroll in and provide ready access to coverage.

  • Portability and choice. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange (see below) will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.

  • Quality and efficiency. Participating insurance companies in the new public program will be required to report data to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.
National Health Insurance Exchange: The Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. The Exchange will act as a watchdog group and help reform the private insurance market by creating rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible.

  • Insurers would have to issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend upon health status.

  • The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and have the same standards for quality and efficiency.

  • The Exchange would evaluate plans and make public the differences among the plans, including cost of services.
Employer Contribution: Employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. Small employers that meet certain revenue thresholds will be exempt.

Mandatory Coverage of Children: Obama will require that all children have health care coverage. Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.

Expansion Of Medicaid and SCHIP: Obama will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs and ensure that these programs continue to serve their critical safety net function.

Flexibility for State Plans: Due to federal inaction, some states have taken the lead in health care reform. The Obama plan builds on these efforts and does not replace what states are doing. States can continue to experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan.

Fight for New Health Initiatives

Advance the Biomedical Research Field: As a result of biomedical research the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases such as cancer and heart disease is better today than any other time in history. Barack Obama has consistently supported funding for the national institutes of health and the national science foundation.

Obama strongly supports investments in biomedical research, as well as medical education and training in health-related fields, because it provides the foundation for new therapies and diagnostics.

Obama has been a champion of research in cancer, mental health, health disparities, global health, women and children's health, and veterans' health.

As president, Obama will strengthen funding for biomedical research, and better improve the efficiency of that research by improving coordination both within government and across government/private/non-profit partnerships.

An Obama administration will ensure that we translate scientific progress into improved approaches to disease prevention, early detection and therapy that is available for all Americans.

Fight AIDS Worldwide: There are 40 million people across the planet infected with HIV/AIDS. As president, Obama will continue to be a global leader in the fight against AIDS.

Obama believes in working across party lines to combat this epidemic and recently joined Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) at a large California evangelical church to promote greater investment in the global AIDS battle.

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