WASHINGTON Jan 8 President-elect Barack
Obama's pledge to reform the U.S. health care system got an
important vote of confidence on Thursday as a diverse alliance
of doctors, a labor union, the drug industry and health
insurers pledged to support the effort.
Health care reform was a central plank of Obama's campaign,
and a Senate subcommittee on Thursday was questioning his
designated Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Daschle, as
part of the confirmation process.
Daschle said he understood the need to work with Congress
and the industry groups said they wanted to be part of the
process -- as opposed to in 1994, when then-first lady Hillary
Clinton's efforts to reform health care fell apart in part
because of health insurance industry resistance.
Then, health insurers launched an advertising campaign
depicting the reform as unnecessary "big government"
On Thursday, six organizations launched a new ad campaign,
but this one is focused on supporting efforts to reform the
U.S. system, which leaves 46 million Americans uninsured, costs
more than any other country's and yet produces poorer outcomes
than those of other developed nations, such as high rates of
newborn deaths, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
"In order to fix the ailing economy, the nation needs
health care reform that addresses the related problems of
health care costs and people losing health coverage," read a
joint statement from the American Cancer Society, American
Medical Association, Families USA, Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, and
Service Employees International Union.
"Healing our health care system is a key component to
jumpstarting our national economy. As our new ad makes clear --
quality, affordable health care is good for families and it's
good for businesses," said AMA President Dr. Nancy Nielsen.
"While businesses and families cope with unaffordable
health care costs, many workers are losing their jobs and
health coverage," said Ron Pollack, executive director of
Families USA, a non-profit health care interest group.
"As a result, it's clear that America's economic
difficulties require meaningful health care reform."
(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Doina Chiacu)