Los Angeles Times Calls for Lawmakers to Earmark Funding for Uninsured
Congress and President Bush should set aside funding to help reduce the number of the nation's uninsured before embracing a tax cut package, a Los Angeles Times editorial states. During his presidential campaign, Bush "promised to set aside $132 billion over 10 years" to help the uninsured buy coverage, but so far "he has not committed any of the federal surplus for this purpose." Furthermore, in their "obsessive focus" on tax cuts, federal lawmakers are "missing the emerging bipartisan consensus in most statehouses" for helping the uninsured. Looking at California's uninsured population, the editorial says that the Bush administration must "adequately fund state-based expansions of health care for the poor," especially in light of the state's energy crisis. For example, federal funding will be necessary for AB 32, a bill endorsed by "liberal health reform advocate" state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) and written by "conservative" Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge) to spend up to $1.8 billion annually on the uninsured (Los Angeles Times, 2/13). Richman's bill would cover California's two million uninsured children and five million uninsured adults through a mix of state and private coverage (California Healthline, 1/5). The editorial calls on HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to approve California's waiver request to expand Healthy Families to cover parents of low-income children. The editorial concludes by asking congressional Democrats and Republicans to "remain flexible about the design of federal funding" for the uninsured, adding, "What's critical now is that both sides set aside enough money to make a credible start on the insurance crisis" (Los Angeles Times, 2/13).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.