Health Policy Experts Question Bills Introduced To Address Issue of the Uninsured
Health policy experts said the handful of bills proposed by Congress during "Cover the Uninsured Week" were "notable mostly for their modesty" and were "not real solutions," despite claims by politicians from both parties that reducing the number of uninsured is a "top priority," CongressDaily reports (Heil, CongressDaily, 5/17). "Cover the Uninsured Week," which ran this year from May 10 to May 16, is a campaign led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to raise awareness about uninsured people in the United States (California Healthline, 5/10). Industry experts said the issue this year was overshadowed by the war in Iraq and election-year politics and will probably continue to be overshadowed through November. A Senate Republican task force presented "a grab bag of mostly previously proposed policy recommendations," while Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would allow all U.S. residents to purchase plans similar to those available to lawmakers, CongressDaily reports. Robert Blendon, director of the Harvard University Program on Public Opinion and Health and Social Policy, said that Democrats likely sought to avoid offering any plan that might conflict with the health care strategy of presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), CongressDaily reports. According to Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, Republican attention to the issue was noteworthy because the uninsured "used to be an issue that Democrats talked about and Republicans denied existed." Altman added, "This is an issue that is not played to win, but to neutralize the other side" (CongressDaily, 5/17).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.