HHS Recaps Bush’s Health Initiatives During First 100 Days
During his first 100 days in office, President Bush has "made significant strides" in his effort to "improve the quality of care for all Americans" and his "commitment to leave no child behind" in the quality of health care that children receive, HHS reports in a press release. The Bush administration addressed a number of health issues during the first 100 days, including:
- State-based efforts: HHS has "work[ed] aggressively" to provide states with waivers to allow them to provide health insurance for low-income families in "innovative ways." Between Jan. 20 and April 20, HHS approved 247 waivers and "state plan amendments" for programs such as Medicaid and CHIP, and "more are in the pipeline";
HCFA to "improve accountability, responsiveness and partnership" in the Medicaid waiver and amendment process. HCFA has developed a new data system for tracking amendments and waivers in a "common format and central database," and the agency plans to implement new procedures for "streamlining" the approval process. The Bush administration has also launched a "comprehensive management review" to "modernize and reform" the agency;
- Health insurance: HHS has "already begun working
to improve access to health insurance" for low-income Americans lacking coverage though a tax credit; -- $1,000 for individuals, $2,000 for married couples -- that would allow them to purchase health insurance. In addition, Bush has proposed boosting funding for community health centers by $124 million to $1.3 billion in his FY 2002 budget and allowing states "increased flexibility" to states in Medicaid and CHIP through the waiver process;
- Patient privacy: To help ensure that individual health information "isn't misused in the information and technology age," the Bush administration approved a "strong" patient privacy rule -- issued in the waning days of the Clinton administration -- that provides patients with "greater access to their own medical records and more control over how their personal information is used."
- Children's programs: Bush "put substantial resources behind his promise to leave no child behind" in his FY 2002 budget, requesting $78.6 billion, a $3 billion increase, in funding for children's health initiatives;
- Organ donation: HHS has also launched a five point "Donate Life" initiative, which includes a national donor card program, a national medal to honor donor families, a new curriculum on organ donation for teenage driver education classes and the Workplace Partnership for Life program, under which 17 businesses and organizations have agreed to educate their employees about organ donation;
- Medicare reform: Bush has "kept his promise" to strengthen and improve Medicare, providing $153 billion over 10 years to "modernize" Medicare, including a prescription drug benefit, in his FY 2002 budget. In addition, he has proposed Immediate Helping Hand, a $46 billion, four-year program to help low-income seniors purchase prescription drugs through block grants to states;
- Medical research: To meet his "campaign pledge" of doubling NIH funding by 2003, Bush included $2.75 billion in increased funding for NIH -- the "biggest single year budget increase in NIH's history" -- in his FY 2002 budget;
- New Freedom Initiative: Bush launched his New Freedom Initiative, a "government-wide framework" to help provide
people with disabilities with the "tools they need to fully access and participate in their communities;"
- Faith-based initiative: In addition, Bush established the Center for Faith and Community Based Initiatives, a program that will allow religious groups to compete with secular organizations for federal funding to provide social services, including substance abuse programs and medical clinics (HHS release, 4/27).
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