THE UNINSURED: Presidential Candidates’ Plans Not Enough
While Medicare and managed care reform have taken center stage in the presidential campaign, many health care advocates believe that Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) are failing to adequately address ways to help the growing number of uninsured Americans, USA Today reports. Forty-four million Americans currently lack health insurance -- a number that has risen steadily even while the country has undergone its longest economic expansion in history. Ron Pollack of consumer advocacy group Families USA said, "The people hardest-hit by this phenomenon are working families. This is not a story about -- whatever the stereotype is -- some poor slob who doesn't want to work." Despite this growing problem, Bush and Gore have focused on piecemeal approaches that fall short of proposals offered in previous elections such as the plan President George Bush offered in 1992 to spend $100 billion over five years to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. USA Today lists several reasons for the candidates' reluctance to promote a "big fix:"
- The failure of President Bill Clinton's ill-fated attempt at health care reform in 1994 fueled the perception that Americans do not want an "intrusive, big-government solution;"
- The strong labor market has eased workers' fears about losing their jobs and employer-based health insurance, creating "less resonance" for the issue of universal coverage;
- Most employees are not affected by soaring insurance premiums because their employers, under pressure to retain workers, absorb most of the increases;