Congress Unlikely To Address the Issue of the Uninsured, Reinhardt Says
Congress "could not find it in its heart and mind" to provide health coverage for the uninsured last year when the nation had a budget surplus, and "it is unlikely to do so as the government once again faces red ink," Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of political economy at Princeton University, writes in a Boston Globe opinion piece. In January 2001, the United States had an estimated $3.1 trillion budget surplus over the next 10 years. However, one year later, the nation had an estimated $742 billion budget deficit over the next 10 years, which Reinhardt attributes to President Bush's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut and costs related to Sept. 11. Congress last year allocated none of the estimated budget surplus to provide health coverage for the uninsured and "gave the clearest signal yet that ... 40 million uninsured will remain a permanent feature of our health system," Reinhardt writes. He adds that Congress "clearly signals through the payment system it put in place" in the U.S. health care system that the "health care experience of Americans can be let to vary by income class," although the public expects providers to deliver care on a "strictly egalitarian basis." Reinhardt concludes that based on the budget that Congress approved last year, "providers of health care must learn to live with this dissonance as one more chronic condition they confront" (Reinhardt, Boston Globe, 8/19).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.