Romney Health Care Plan Stresses State-Based Reform
Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on Friday during a speech to the Florida Medical Association in Hollywood, Fla., likely will announce a health insurance proposal under which states would develop their own plans, USA Today reports (Lawrence, USA Today, 8/24). The proposal would not mandate that all residents obtain health insurance.
Under the proposal, the federal government would use funds currently provided to states to cover the cost of care for the uninsured to allow states to help low-income residents who do not qualify for public health insurance programs to purchase private coverage. In addition, the federal government would use those funds as an incentive to prompt states to revise health insurance regulations, such as benefits mandates and restrictions on HMOs, to reduce the cost of private coverage.
The proposal also would revise the tax code to allow U.S. residents who purchase individual health insurance to deduct premiums, deductibles and copayments from their annual incomes. In addition, the proposal would revise the system used to determine the amount of federal funds that state Medicaid programs receive to encourage revisions to the programs and help residents purchase private health insurance and would cap damages in medical malpractice lawsuits (Luo, New York Times, 8/24).
The proposal would not increase costs or require tax increases (Jacoby/Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 8/24).
Romney aides said that the proposal would help the three different groups of uninsured residents: 15 million residents who qualify for, but are not enrolled in, public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP; 12 million low-income residents who do not qualify for such programs; and 18 million middle-income residents who decide not to purchase coverage.
Romney said, "We're going to make health insurance affordable. We're going to get on track to have every citizen insured. And we're going to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending" (Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers, 8/23).