AMA Plan Would Expand 'Dysfunctional' Health Care System

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The American Medical Association"says it's going to spend millions of dollars to highlight the plightof the uninsured in general -- and the organization's own remedies inparticular," but what the organization "isn't saying is that its planwould steer about 47 million people into the health insuranceindustry's most expensive form of coverage" and would "probably leavetaxpayers holding the bag," columnist David Lazarus writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece (Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, 8/26).

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Last week, AMA launched "Voice for the Uninsured,"a three-year, multimillion-dollar advertising campaign intended toinfluence the health care debate in the 2008 election and promote itsplan for providing health coverage for the uninsured (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 8/24).

AMA'splan "would maintain the current employer-based insurance system thatcovers most working families but is a growing headache for U.S.businesses," Lazarus writes, adding, "Meanwhile, the AMA plan wouldextend tax credits to uninsured people that could be used to purchasecoverage in the individual insurance market." He says the problem isthat tax credits "in effect represent a government subsidy forpurchasing insurance. That money would have to come from somewhere:higher taxes most likely, or funds cut from other federal programs."

Lazaruscontinues, "Whatever else, the AMA is to be commended for attempting toraise the political profile of the uninsured and for seeking to makethis a priority issue for presidential candidates." However, he addsthat "if your goal is universal coverage, expanding our dysfunctionalsystem isn't the answer. In fact, it might only make things worse overthe long run" (Los Angeles Times, 8/26).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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