HHS Secretary Pushes Market-Based Health Care Reform Options
Congress should seek to provide states with the ability to expand access to health insurance to all residents, rather than expand access to coverage at the federal level, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said on Tuesday, CongressDaily reports.
In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Leavitt said that the federal government should provide subsidies to elderly and lower-income U.S. residents who cannot afford basic health insurance and that the government should serve as the "organizer," not the "proprietor," of health care. Leavitt promoted a proposal from President Bush that would provide tax deductions to most residents who purchase health insurance and impose an income tax on the highest-priced employer-sponsored health insurance plans to offset the cost of the deductions.
In addition, he called on advocates of market-based health care reform to develop proposals as alternatives to plans to expand SCHIP and other public health insurance programs.
"You can't beat the candidate with no candidate. You can't beat a plan with no plan," Leavitt said, adding, "Those who understand the dangers of the trend need to engage."
Leavitt also cited the need for "electronically connected medical records," health care quality standards and incentives to provide high-quality, low-cost care (Johnson, CongressDaily, 4/24).