Wyden-Smith Proposal to Help the Uninsured Passes by Voice Vote
The Senate passed by voice vote on April 5 an amendment, sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), that would use tax credits and extra Medicaid funding to provide health coverage to individuals without health insurance, the Portland Oregonian reports. The amendment, which would be included in the Senate's budget resolution for fiscal year 2002, would allot $28 billion toward the plan, and would cover as many as 20 million of the country's 43 million uninsured (Barnett, Portland Oregonian, 4/6). The funds will be made available though existing federal-state health programs, such as CHIP, and will be paid with the federal surplus (Smith/Wyden release, 4/5). Smith said that the Senate needs to adopt measures to expand health coverage to those without it "while the resources are available." He added, "I believe that if we can't do it now, we will never be able to do it." Wyden added that the proposal represents "a chance to break the gridlock that has paralyzed health policy since the downfall of the Clinton health plan." The proposal now moves to the Senate Finance Committee, where it will likely be taken up later this year, Wyden said. He added that the committee will wait to broach the issue until after the debate over President Bush's tax cut proposal (Barnett, Portland Oregonian, 4/6).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.