An incremental reform plan sponsored by House Republican leaders would reduce the federal deficit by more than $11 billion over a 10-year period, but the number of uninsured Americans would drop by only two percentage points, according to an analysis released last week by the Congressional Budget Office.
House Republican Leader Robert Michel of Illinois, the plan's chief proponent, touted the findings in a letter to House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.). Mr. Michel called for his plan to be used as the vehicle for action when the House returns to work later this month.
However, Democrats argued that the largely critical CBO report proved incremental steps would raise insurance costs while doing little to reduce the number of uninsured.
Mr. Michel said the CBO analysis underestimated the uninsured who would gain coverage under his proposal.
"We believe the bill will financially pave the way for at least 95% coverage by the year 2004," primarily through increased low-income subsidies and the creation of buying pools for small businesses, Mr. Michel said.
The Michel plan also would allow individuals to buy less costly catastrophic insurance plans that would carry high deductibles.
The CBO said the availability of such policies would raise the cost of standard insurance plans as younger, healthier individuals opted for catastrophic policies, leaving older, less healthy Americans in the standard insurance pool.