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Nominee Notes Hunger For Health Cost Containment

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Thomas Daschle, the Obama nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, says public comments posted on an Obama transition team Web site show that Americans want the government to address rising health care costs.

“It’s one of the biggest issues driving the whole health care debate,” said Daschle, a former Democratic senator from South Dakota and a former Senate majority leader. “Everyone says, ‘If we don’t control costs, we haven’t solved this health care problem.’”

President-elect Barack Obama’s Health Care Policy Working Group last week asked members of the public to post their thoughts about health care on a Web page.

Members of the public responded by posting about 3,500 comments, Daschle said Tuesday in a video response to the comments.

“I spent a lot of the weekend reading the comments,” Daschle said.

Daschle, who is the head of the Obama transition team’s health care working group, and another working group member, Lauren Aronson, took note of comments that suggested the country should place more emphasis on preventive health care.

They also singled out a comment suggesting that the country should create a “Health Corps,” similar to the Peace Corps, that would provide care in underserved communities.

A look at a sampling of one page of the comments shows commenters talking about the difficulties that job changers with preexisting conditions face; the risks and benefits of making personal health information available through the Web; the advantages and disadvantages of moving to a government-run single-payer system; Americans’ reluctance to pay the true, full cost of care for all; and the difficulties a shortage of primary care physicians would pose for any attempt to create a “universal health care system.”

One commenter says the government should end private health insurance and fee-for-service payment arrangements, but also set up a program to help displaced health insurance workers find new jobs.

Another commenter, Matthew Johnson, suggests that the government could improve nutrition by taxing unhealthy foods to fund a subsidy for healthy foods.

HYPERLINK “”Those comments and others are available here.


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