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Coalition says health care reform needs to happen now

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FARGO - Health reform advocates gathered today to deliver a message to policy makers: the cost of doing nothing is too high as skyrocketing costs threaten family finances.

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Members of a coalition called Health Care for America Now argue that the nation must confront spiraling health costs and cover the uninsured.

In North Dakota, where bankruptcy filings almost doubled from 2006 to 2008, about half of those filings followed a serious medical problem, according to Janis Cheney, AARP North Dakota state director.

North Dakota companies spend an average of $7,042 per year for family cover-age, or 70 percent of the cost of coverage.

Cost containment will be a critical part of the solu-tion, Cheney said. The cost of employer-paid health premiums in North Dakota increased by more than 74 percent from 2000 to 2007, she said.

Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said lawmakers are considering forming a task force of health providers and consumers to address health reforms.

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