American College of Physicians Offers Plan for Health Care Reform
The American College of Physicians on Thursday unveiled a four-part health reform plan that it suggested Congress use as a guide in the new session, CongressDaily reports. The initial goal of legislators and President Bush should be to assure that every U.S. resident whose income is 150% of the federal poverty level or less has access to affordable coverage by Jan. 1, 2007, ACP President Munsey Wheby said at a press conference. To meet that objective, tax relief, new purchasing arrangements and new state powers and options would be necessary, he added. Wheby said the second step for reform should be for the government and insurers to eliminate half the amount of time physicians must spend completing paperwork for third-party payers by 2007. The next step would be to offer incentives and funding to make a "transition from paper-based health care systems to patient- and physician-friendly computer-based systems," he said. The ACP's final reform proposal suggests that the government encourage and implement policies to ensure that there will be enough physicians in primary care, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics as the population ages and medical education costs increase.
In related news, Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans on Thursday also unveiled proposals for Congress, including proposals to: offer tax credits to people who pay health insurance premiums exceeding 5% of their incomes, expand SCHIP programs, make it easier for SCHIP beneficiaries to purchase private plans and create an education campaign to inform wealthy uninsured people of the risks of remaining without coverage. BCBS officials said the proposals would extend coverage to about 67% of the nation's 43 million uninsured (Rich/Heil, CongressDaily, 1/15).
Speaking before an audience of 550 people in Sioux Falls, S.D., Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) advocated creating a universal health care system, saying that the current system is "a failure in terms of the way we pay for it," the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. Daschle said that the quality of medical care in the United States is good, but added, "If you can't afford it, I think it's just a disaster." Daschle said that there should be a national form of universal health care, and we "ought to be able to have it by the end of this decade." According to the Argus Leader, Daschle's comments came in response to a report released on Wednesday by the Institute of Medicine that recommended that the United States implement a universal health coverage system by 2010 (Walker, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 1/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.