Bush Promises Veto of Affordable Health Insurance Plan
President Bush pledges to veto any health insurance bill sent to his desk unless Congress makes provisions to exclude the middle-class. A Florida health insurance advocacy group, FREEHEALTH says "the president's plan is out of touch" - and as a replacement to the health insurance bill has offered another affordable plan designed to cover everyone in the country.
The New York Times recently reported that the White House is making it harder for states to bring children from middle income families into the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Instead, the Bush administration, which is currently battling with US Congress over expansion of SCHIP, wants states to focus on making sure the program covers the poorest children first.
President Bush has said a number of times in the past few weeks that he will veto both pieces of health insurance legislation, and that his administration supports a policy of tax breaks to encourage families to buy private insurance.
"The ultimate effect of this new policy is that tens of thousands of children who have health insurance will effectively lose that insurance," said Morgan Moran, health insurance consultant for FloridaHealthInsuranceWeb.com a Florida-based consumer group, in a telephone interview today.
One alternative plan suggested by FREEHEALTH; each person could pay into an emergency health care account, similar to an HSA, which would cover them in case of catastrophic injury only. Another alternative to the Bush insurance plan is universal coverage provided by a simple across the board sales tax. FREEHEALTH says, "billions of dollars can be raised daily with a flat tax and those funds can care for all of us" the group said. Government regulation would be limited to only to controlling overall costs of procedures provided.
Moran reported when Congress returns from recess next month, House and Senate Democratic leaders will seek a compromise between their separate measures to expand the health insurance measure called 'SCHIP' that can attract enough Republican support to override a veto from the president. Groups such as FREEHEALTH, representing hospitals and nurses, said Bush's plan to make health insurance more affordable won't work because the proposed tax breaks won't help people pay for coverage."
Health insurance consultant Moran said Bush has proposed to tax employer-provided health benefits while offering deductions to encourage individuals to purchase medical coverage. Those buying insurance would be allowed a deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families. The presidents plan is intended to lower the number of Americans without medical insurance.
"Even with a tax break, coverage remains unaffordable and out of reach," the insurance consultant said today in a statement. The number of uninsured American's reached 46.6 million in 2005 and has grown every year of Bush's presidency, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The only remedy for the nation's health insurance problem is for congress to create a basic universal coverage policy for every American, funded by minimal tax increases, said FreeHealth, a Florida health insurance advocacy group.
Providing health care for the indigent has stretched Florida's and other states budgets, and unpaid bills are hurting operators of hospitals. The majority of families without medical insurance have at least one full-time worker, according to Census data.
Moran said, "The President's latest attempt to deal with the nation's health-care problems is based on misconceptions about what causes people to seek care and, if enacted, might do more harm than good. Instead of thinking about how to help 16 percent of the population without health insurance to obtain it, Bush offered a complex plan to make people more conscious of the cost of health care. Predictably it centered on a tax cut, though a small group would pay more."
Administration officials estimate that 80 percent of employees would get a tax cut while the remainder would have some additional tax to pay. The latter group would be encouraged to buy less costly insurance -- perhaps with higher co-pays or a smaller network of health-care providers to avoid the added taxes.
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