President Bush Promotes Association Health Plans, Health Savings Accounts in Speech to Small Business Owners
President Bush on Thursday said that he will ask Congress to pass legislation to allow small businesses to form association health plans as part of an effort to reduce health care costs, CongressDaily reports (Koffler, CongressDaily, 1/19). In a preview of his State of the Union address, which will take place Jan. 31, Bush -- in a speech to small business owners at JK Moving & Storage in Sterling, Va. -- also said that he will seek to expand health savings accounts to make them "more attractive, more portable, more individualized" (Jackson, USA Today, 1/20).
In addition, Bush said that he will seek to expand community health centers, increase the use of health care information technology and reduce medical malpractice lawsuits (CongressDaily, 1/19). Bush also said that he will seek to ensure the future solvency of Medicare and Social Security (USA Today, 1/20).
In related news, Business Roundtable President John Castellani on Thursday said that the group will ask Congress to reform Medicare and Medicaid in 2006, CQ Today reports. Castellani said that the programs "need to be addressed" because the "cost pressure they are putting on the country is unsustainable" (Wayne, CQ Today, 1/19).
He also said that Congress should pass a medical liability reform bill, as well as legislation to reduce health care costs (Wegner, CongressDaily, 1/19). In addition, Castellani said that Business Roundtable will ask Congress to pass a bill(S 1418) that would encourage health care providers to implement electronic health records systems, which he said could save an estimated $160 billion annually (CQ Today, 1/19).