Near Universal Health Insurance Plan Unveiled
As expected, the Federation of American Hospitals on Thursday announced a proposal that would require all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance, Reuters/Los Angeles Times reports (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 2/23).
Under the proposal, which FAH hopes will become part of federal legislation after the 2008 presidential election, residents would have 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. In addition, the proposal would provide subsidies, based on income, to help cover the cost 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 (California Healthline, 2/22).
FAH President Chip Kahn said that, under the proposal, 98% of residents would obtain health insurance "without turning the world upside down" in the current health care system. FAH estimated that the proposal would reduce the number of uninsured residents from 47 million to 6.6 million this year. Under the proposal, two out of every three residents who obtained health insurance would have private coverage, according to FAH.
FAH also released the results of a poll that indicated "strong public support" for the proposal, CQ HealthBeat reports. In addition, 79% of respondents said that the positions presidential candidates take on the issue of the uninsured will influence their votes in the 2008 election, the poll found (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 2/22).
Analysts said that the FAH proposal and other recently announced health insurance proposals seek to prompt presidential candidates to address the issue of the uninsured.
Center for Studying Health System Change President Paul Ginsburg said, "The whole purpose is to capture people's imagination and to make this a major campaign issue. I would expect all major candidates seeking the nomination to have outlined proposals to expand health insurance coverage" (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 2/23).