Opinion: Senators Push Bill for Universal Health Care
"It's been 13 years since the Senate has taken up bipartisan health care reform," but, provided that "enough Americans start clamoring for action, this Congress and this president could defy the odds" and establish a "rational system that guarantees good quality and affordable health care to all Americans," Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
The authors recommend passage of the Healthy Americans Act (S 334), a bill sponsored by Wyden that they maintain would "create a universal, market-driven health care system that all Americans can afford."
They add, "What we want is not for Washington to meddle in health care decisions, but for every American to receive the same level of care available to members of Congress now."
Under the legislation, all "Americans, other than those in Medicare or the military, would be given incentives to buy basic private health plans," and those "at or below the [federal] poverty level would receive a subsidy to buy insurance," the authors write.
In addition, the authors write, "states would be given more flexibility (within a federal framework) to give consumers more choices in insurance available on the private market." The legislation would "make health insurance portable ... and make access to health care universal and affordable," the authors write.
They add, "Our bill would rewrite" the tax code to "give every individual a tax benefit for buying health insurance," a change that would "create an incentive to buy insurance" and "push the health insurance industry to offer more competitive plans and create a more dynamic insurance market."
The legislation "also includes an unprecedented array of new incentives to promote personal responsibility" and preventive care, according to the authors. "We know there are skeptics," the authors write, adding, "But we came to Congress to tackle big problems with big solutions. The Healthy Americans Act is a big solution" (Wyden/Bennett, Wall Street Journal, 6/26).