Commonwealth Fund’s Davis Offers Plan for the Uninsured
Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis announced a plan yesterday to "wipe out the problem of the uninsured" by using a portion of the budget surplus to increase employer-based and public health coverage, CongressDaily reports. The plan, to be "formally unveil[ed]" at a press conference next week, would earmark one-fourth of the projected $4.6 trillion budget surplus for health insurance subsidies for workers and employers. Speaking to health reporters Thursday, Davis said that the allocation is justified because roughly $1 trillion of the surplus was generated by health care spending reductions, including "direct" cuts resulting from the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and "indirect spending reductions to Medicare and Medicaid resulting from antifraud measures and welfare reform." A "key" to the success of the plan is ensuring that coverage is "automatic unless individuals opt out," Davis said.
Automatic enrollment options could include "keeping young adults on their parents' plans even if they are not full-time students" or giving all former employees coverage, unless they decline it, under the 1986 federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which guarantees limited continued coverage under a group health plan for employees who have lost their jobs. Davis also said that employers "need better and cheaper places to purchase coverage," such as the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan or CHIP. She said, "The real issue is going to be not just giving people tax credits to go out and buy coverage, but giving them other venues" (Rovner, CongressDaily, 12/7).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.