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Vice Presidential Nominee Profile: Joe Biden

Joe Biden on Health Care

Joe Biden, the veteran senator of Delaware, had made a bid for the presidency but dropped out in January after a poor showing in the Iowa caucus. As a candidate, his positions on health care were closely aligned with Sen. Obama's. On a personal note, Biden, 65, suffered two aneurysms in 1988 that required surgery. Biden stuttered as a child, and suffered personal tragedy in 1972 when his first wife Neila, and infant daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash.

More about Biden's health care proposals while he was running for president can be found below:

Health Insurance: Private/Government

  • Develop a universal comprehensive health care program for every American using both federal and private, free-market approaches.
  • Include business, insurance companies, the health care industry, the American Medical Association, unions, and the government in negotiating a comprehensive plan within 90 days of taking office.
  • Extend the coverage of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to include children to at least age 21; cover children whose families are at least at 300% of the federal poverty level ($61,950 for a family of four).
  • Enable all families to participate in SCHIP through a sliding-scale insurance premium program and co-payments based on their income.
  • Eliminate SCHIP co-payments for preventive dental checkups, physicals, vision and hearing screenings, and vaccinations.
  • Mandate uniform billing/claims forms and provide federal funding to states to accomplish that.
  • Allow uninsured to buy in to a program similar to what member of Congress and federal workers have (FEHBP) -- paying on a sliding scale based on income. Small businesses would share costs with the government.
  • Provide federal funding (a reinsurance pool) that would cover 75% of catastrophic health costs for employees and their family members, retirees, insurers, and associations. Allow approved small businesses to participate in the pool. A catastrophic health problem would qualify if it cost more than $50,000 to treat.
  • Permit insurance companies to access federal funding if they agree not to turn away applicants because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Provide grants to states to develop information technology systems (electronic record keeping) for health care.

Medical Costs

  • Biden puts a strong emphasis on prevention of disease and managing chronic conditions. He would increase funding for programs that promote awareness of these conditions.
  • Identify the best ways to manage chronic diseases by evaluating technology, devices, and medical protocols through the establishment of a new "Comparative Effectiveness Panel."
  • Invest at least $1 billion annually in technology to improve communications and care quality, as well as to guard against duplication of services.

Health Savings Accounts

Biden opposes health savings accounts.

Drugs: Costs/Importation

  • Use the federal government's bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs for the Medicare Part D program. The Veterans Administration currently does this, but current Medicare law prohibits government negotiation with pharmaceutical companies.
  • Close the gap in Medicare benefits, the so-called "doughnut hole," which occurs when a Medicare recipient hits $2,400 in coverage, and then must pay for his or her drugs out-of-pocket until costs reach $5,451.

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