Improving access to healthcare services was on the minds of many last week in Washington with a number of pronouncements addressing the issue.
* As part of his fiscal 2001 budget, President Clinton proposed a four-pronged plan to help at least 5 million of the 44 million uninsured Americans obtain affordable health coverage. The plan, which will cost $110 billion over 10 years, recycles some of the president's previous proposals, such as a Medicare "buy-in" for some Americans between the ages of 55 and 65. Clinton's proposal also would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers 3 million children nationwide. The expansion would include the parents of covered children.
* Health insurance coverage would increase by 330,000 people if the government enacts legislation allowing small employers to join federally regulated insurance purchasing coalitions, the Congressional Budget Office said. In all, 4.6 million people would receive coverage through "association health plans," but most would be switching from other types of insurance arrangements, the CBO said. Those employers participating in the association plans would pay health insurance premiums that are 13% lower, although those who stay in existing insurance arrangements would see their premiums increase 2%, according to the CBO. The House has passed legislation allowing the creation of such federally regulated health plans.
* Healthcare and education will be the top issues voters will consider in the Nov. 7 election, according to a survey commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The survey of registered voters found little consensus on how to cover the uninsured or how to improve Medicare. But there was more consensus on managed-care reform, with 72% of respondents favoring patients' rights legislation even though 65% said it would increase health insurance premiums.