Senate Majority Leader Frist Offers Several Health Care Proposals in Speech
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on Monday in a speech at the National Press Club offered several proposals to reform the U.S. health care system, CongressDaily reports. "The status quo of health care delivery is unacceptable today," Frist said (Heil, CongressDaily, 7/13). He added, "Today's health care system is poorly equipped to meet the challenges of the future" (Bivins, Tennessean, 7/13). According to Frist, "Health insurance premiums are rising four times faster than incomes. ... The bottom line is we can do better" (Connolly, Washington Post, 7/13). The proposals that Frist offered included:
- "Healthy Mae," a federally chartered, privately administered health insurance pool similar to Fannie Mae for mortgage loans. The pool would allow health insurers to share risk, reduce administrative costs and establish "a broad secondary market" for insurance (CongressDaily, 7/13);
- Tax-free health savings accounts for long-term care that would function similar to 401(k) retirement funds;
- A requirement that uninsured U.S. residents with household incomes higher than $50,000 per year enroll in a high-deductible catastrophic health coverage plan; those who do not submit evidence of such coverage could have their $2,500 personal income tax exemption reduced;
- A "fully integrated, privacy-protected electronic system" to manage the health care system by 2014, as well as complete electronic medical records for U.S. residents enrolled in a government health care programs within the next three years, the Washington Post reports (Washington Post, 7/13);
- A cap on the employer tax exclusion, which is offered to companies that provide health insurance to employees, and tax credits for U.S. residents who purchase individual health insurance policies (CongressDaily, 7/13);
- Universal health coverage for U.S. children (Tennessean, 7/13).
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