A local man active in the American Association of Retired Persons supports that group's drive for comprehensive health care reform in the United States.
Larry Heeb, state coordinator for AARP's citizen representation program, recently attended a four-day seminar about the need for health care reform and problems with the U.S. health care system.
According to an AARP study, about 34 million people in the United States, or 14 percent of the 1988 U.S. population, were uninsured.
About 209 million people, or 86 percent of the 243 million people living in the United States in 1988, had some private or public health benefits protection, including private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, the study said.
AARP believes that all people should have access to health care, and the group is currently researching how that can happen, Heeb said.
ALTHOUGH the group is primarily concerned with older Americans, Heeb said, AARP is taking an intergenerational perspective on this issue.
"Everybody should be interested and concerned," he said.
According to AARP, about one-third of the uninsured are children and minority groups, which have a greater likelihood of being uninsured.
Heeb said it's AARP's contention that "our system doesn't provide equal care for all."
AARP favors a system in which everyone pays so that, as Heeb put it, health care is accessible to "the have-gots, the have-nots and the in-betweens." He said everyone including employers, medical professionals, hospital administrators, pharmacists and insurance companies has a stake in health care reform.
If everyone pays for health care, Heeb said, the burden won't fall on any one group of people.
AARP IS gearing up for the 1992 election season, when it will try to find out how candidates feel about health care reform.
"Our goal is to be ready by the election so that we can get information about candidate's attitudes toward health care," he said. "In the meantime, AARP will very likely have a skeleton plan. It would have to be the legislature that would put the meat on the skeleton."
Heeb said any plan needs to be "put together in a single package."
"Can we afford health care reform?" Heeb asked. "We could say it's going to cost billions and billions of dollars, but we could also say we're already spending billions and billions. We must afford it for the benefit of all generations."
He then added, "This is not really the AARP game plan. This is the populace game plan."