Health Care Experts Discuss Four Proposals To Achieve Universal Health Insurance Coverage

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Universal Health Insurance Coverage

A group of health care experts last week at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project unveiled four policy proposals that could create a universal health care system in the U.S., CQ HealthBeat reports. The four proposals are outlined below.

  • One proposal, co-authored by Ezekiel Emanuel of NIH and Victor Fuchs of Stanford University,would create a government-provided voucher system that offers astandard package of benefits similar to employer-sponsored coverage andwould be funded by a value-added tax;
  • Another plan, by Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation,would create a "Health Exchange Plan" that would allow health insuranceto be portable through state-chartered "insurance exchanges" and"overhaul current tax subsidies to target lower-income families;"
  • A third proposal, co-authored by Gerard Anderson and Hugh Waters of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,would expand Medicare to allow anyone to enroll while allowingcompanies and individuals to keep their current private insurance; theproposal would require all U.S. residents to have health insurance andrequire employers to provide a plan through individual and employermandates, and would provide subsidies for low- and moderate- incomefamilies;
  • The fourth plan, by Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,would expand the Massachusetts health care insurance law nationwide.The state law requires all residents to obtain health insurance andprovides subsidies for lower-income residents to pay for coverage. Thelaw also created a state-run marketplace, called the Connector, whichhelps state residents and small businesses find affordable health plans.

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According to CQ HealthBeat,members of a panel that was convened to analyze the proposals forreal-world viability praised the plans but agreed that none of theproposals was "perfect." Former CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, one of the panelists and a visiting fellow at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies,said the best plan of action would be to make small changes over time,allowing people to choose how they receive coverage. He added thatchanges should start at the state level.

Robert Rubin -- chair of the executive committee at Citigroup, former secretary of the Department of the Treasuryand a member of the Hamilton Project advisory council -- said,"Universal health care is the broadest step we can take to protect theeconomic security of the American family," adding, "The first step iscovering the uninsured" (Phillips, CQ HealthBeat, 7/20).
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