Thompson Expected to Propose Bush Plan for the Uninsured
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson today is scheduled to appear at a Washington, D.C.-area health center to "fles[h] out" the Bush administration's plan to provide health benefits to the country's uninsured, the AP/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports. Bush said during his State of the Union address last night that he wants to "give uninsured workers credits to help buy health coverage." The plan will be "essentially unchanged" from a proposal Bush made while running for president, the AP/Star-Telegram reports, and will give tax credits -- $1,000 for individuals, $2,000 for couples -- to low-income people who don't owe federal income taxes, "meaning they would get money from the government to help buy insurance." Last year's proposal, estimated to cost $71.5 billion over 10 years, would have given the uninsured a credit "only if they bought insurance" and earned less than $30,000 per individual.
Thompson also is expected to announce three additional aspects of the plan, the AP/Star-Telegram reports. First, the plan would "recycle" $3.2 billion originally allocated for state CHIP programs but returned to the federal government after states failed to use the money. The funds would be available for states to "expand" CHIP and Medicaid to more low-income children or to their parents. Second, Bush's plan would allocate $1.5 billion for community health centers, an 8% increase over this year's funding. Finally, Bush is expected to propose $350 million for Medicaid families who are in the transition from welfare to work.
While Republicans "champion" Bush's "free-market approach" to solving health care problems, including the tax credit plan, Democrats "generally prefer" providing coverage through state-run programs such as CHIP, the AP/Star-Telegram reports. According to Democrats, state-run plans "guarante[e] a basic package of benefits," in which patients don't have to "shop around" to find care (Meckler, AP/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 1/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.