Sen. John Kerry Continues To Promote Health Insurance Bill for Children
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Tuesday held a rally in St. Paul, Minn., to build support for legislation (SB 114) that would expand health insurance coverage for people less than 21 years of age, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Speaking to about 300 supporters, Kerry said he was trying to build "an army of citizens who will hold politicians accountable" for providing health care for all children (Salisbury, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 5/4).
Kerry's plan would spend an estimated $264 billion over the next 10 years to provide health coverage to people under age 21 with family incomes that do not exceed 300% of the poverty level. All U.S. residents younger than age 21 who have family incomes below the federal poverty level would receive federally funded health insurance through Medicaid. Children in families with annual incomes between 100% and 300% of the federal poverty level would receive benefits funded jointly by the states and the federal government. The legislation would fund the expansions by repealing some personal income tax credits for people whose annual incomes exceed $300,000 (California Healthline, 5/3).
Kerry encouraged supporters to become "citizen co-sponsors" of his bill. He urged them to "get organized and go out there and do what's right for the children in America" (Schmickle, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/4).
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor of the House version of the legislation, said, "This is a question of priorities, values and morality as a country." Norm Ornstein, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said odds are "slim" that Kerry's bill will pass in the Republican-controlled Congress (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 5/4).
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday visited an Illinois clinic for uninsured patients to discuss his proposal to give all U.S. residents access to affordable health insurance by 2010, regardless of age, income, employment or health status, the Peoria Journal Star reports. Durbin on Friday called for Congress to enact the legislation.
Durbin said his plan would include lowering prescription drug costs and administrative expenses. Consumer choice and discounted prices for groups of small employers would be offered, as well as a nationwide purchasing pool, Durbin added (Kepple, Peoria Journal Star, 5/3).
CQ HealthBeat: State risk pools, tax credits and expanded health savings accounts were some of the ideas presented on Tuesday by experts at a Capitol Hill forum on ways to provide health insurance to the 45 million U.S. residents who lack coverage, CQ HealthBeat reports. Meanwhile, RWJF released a poll that found that nearly 75% of registered voters are concerned about losing their health care coverage. RWJF President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said, "Despite popular support for action on health coverage, our leaders have yet to truly focus on solving this problem" (CQ HealthBeat, 5/3).
- The Hill: The organizers of Cover the Uninsured Week -- a "diverse group of health care organizations, business groups and consumer advocates" -- have not been "deterred" by Congress' "promise of fiscal discipline and the lack of enthusiasm for new federal commitments to health care," The Hill reports. Tax credits for health insurance premiums "appear to be the most likely proposal to get attention this year," according to The Hill. Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "We can take modest steps, but we shouldn't take our eye off" the larger issue of people lacking insurance (Young, The Hill, 5/4).