President Bush Addresses Health Care Issues, Promotes Proposals
President Bush on Tuesday in Texas said that increased health care costs represent one of the largest concerns for the U.S. economy, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. According to a report issued on Tuesday by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, hourly wages for production workers have increased in the past four years, but high health care costs have limited improvements in take-home pay (Roberts/Murray, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/10).
Health care costs have increased by more than 30% since Bush took office, and the average family spends about $600 beyond insurance costs for health care annually, according to Council of Economic Advisers Chair Ben Bernanke. Health care costs are "certainly a major drag on the economy, on family budgets," Bernanke said, adding, "These are issues that we are going to have to address because they are significant." Bush on Tuesday asked Congress to pass his health care proposals to help address the issue. The proposals include tax-free health savings accounts, tax credits to help low-income individuals purchase health insurance, association health plans, support for new technology to reduce medical errors and limits on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Some critics have said that the proposals made by Bush would not have a significant effect on health care costs (Pickler, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/9). The Counsel of Economic Advisers report is available online.