Hospital Group Set To Pitch Universal Health Care Proposal
The Federation of American Hospitals on Thursday plans to announce a proposal that would require all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance, the New York Times reports (Freudenheim, New York Times, 2/22). FAH released the proposal on the group Web site on Wednesday and will discuss the plan at a press conference on Thursday (AP/Boston Globe, 2/22).
FAH hopes might become part of federal legislation after the 2008 presidential election. It calls for residents to enroll in health plans offered by employers, purchase individual health insurance or obtain coverage through public programs.
The proposal would expand eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP and would provide subsidies for residents who cannot afford to enroll in health plans offered by employers. In addition, the proposal would provide subsidies, based on income, for the purchase of health insurance and allow those who purchase individual coverage to deduct the cost from their income taxes.
According to FAH, the proposal would increase the $900 billion that federal and state governments spend annually on health care by $115.2 billion. The proposal does not indicate a source for the additional funds, "raising immediate questions about the political viability of the plan," the Times reports.
FAH President Charles Kahn said that the proposal seeks to contribute to the national debate on health care reform.
Victor Campbell, chair of FAH and a senior vice president of HCA, said that company hospitals last year treated more than one million uninsured residents in emergency departments at an estimated cost of $1 billion to $1.5 billion. He said, "Unless this issue is addressed, hospitals won't be able to provide the services and care they need to provide," adding, "We, in essence, have become the insurers of the uninsured" (New York Times, 2/22).