Parties Split on How to Expand Coverage for the Uninsured
The patients' bill of rights legislation that the House will debate today does "nothing" for the millions of residents who lack health coverage, and addressing the issue of the uninsured "has so split the parties that doing nothing has become the likeliest outcome," the Los Angeles Times reports. While Republicans favor the free-market approaches of expanding tax credits and medical savings account for the uninsured, Democrats have focused recently on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program to low-income parents. Noting that the budget "projects" $71 billion in tax credits and $20 billion for expanding local clinics over the next decade, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said that President Bush is "strongly committed to providing health insurance coverage to the uninsured through tax credits and community health centers." The Times reports, however, that the tax cut signed by Bush last month does not include tax credits, and "their fate is problematic now that Democrats have gained control of the Senate." And although the budget resolution does call for $28 billion in spending over the next 10 years to expand CHIP, it "is not clear whether this money will still be available if the budget surplus shrinks as the economy weakens." Health experts believe that both parties have "overlook[ed] just how hard it is to expand coverage." Dr. Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation, said, "The arguments are often more ideological than practical" (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 7/24).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.