The flood of healthcare reform studies continued last week, with one report saying families would save money as a result of President Clinton's plan and another that the federal deficit would grow.
The Clinton proposal would save the average family $695 on healthcare costs in the year 2003, when the plan would be fully implemented, said a report released by Families USA, a Washington-based advocacy group with close ties to the White House.
In 2003, 56 million Americans would gain new prescription drug coverage, 156 million would get better mental health and substance-abuse benefits, and 2.6 million would qualify for new home health services, the report said. Americans would get more health benefits and pay less for them under the president's plan, the group contended.
"The losers will be insurance companies," whose rates would be restricted, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. Individual elements of the plan have substantial support among voters, he added.
At a Washington press conference, Mr. Pollack acknowledged that public opinion polls reflected a decline in Americans' support for the president's plan. But he blamed the slippage on the $14 million negative ad campaign sponsored by the Health Insurance Association of America (See related story, p. 18).
The report, prepared by the health research firm Lewin-VHI, Fairfax, Va., predicted that the average family income was $39,525 and the average healthcare spending was $5,190, or 13.1% of income.
In the year 2003, without the president's plan, the average family income will rise to $55,000 and the average healthcare bill will increase to $11,070, or 20.1% of income, the study estimated. Authors predicted that reform would restrict costs to an average of $10,375 per family, but that would still be an increase to 18.9% of income.
A separate report released last week by the national consulting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick concluded that the Clinton plan would add $10 billion to the deficit in 1996 and $101 billion in 2003, with a cumulative deficit increase of $579 billion over those eight years. By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the Clinton plan would add $136 billion to the deficit during the same period.
KPMG actuaries said the main reason for the difference was that they assumed the primary cost control mechanism in the president's plan-a cap on insurance premiums-would be only 50% effective.
The study was prepared for the Congressional Institute, which organizes policy seminars and retreats for congressional Republicans.