Leading healthcare bills on Capitol Hill would do more to cover uninsured Americans than the Bush administrations current proposal, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund concluded.
The conclusions come as members of Congress and industry officials push harder for policies that broaden insurance coverage but conflict with the presidents consumer-focused approach.
The report analyzed 10 bills drawn from 13 plans, including a bill from Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) that would turn Medicare into a universal program; and the Healthy Americans Act from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which would help people purchase coverage through large regional insurance exchanges. Other bills reviewed focused specifically on expanding insurance for children and small businesses, or expanding insurance at the state level.
The report also analyzed the presidents planreleased earlier this yearto improve access to private health insurance, which includes a revision of the tax code to encourage more people to buy health insurance, and redirecting federal funds to the states to help them provide basic private health insurance to the poor and the sick. The Bush plan would cost the federal government less to implement than other proposals$70 billion in 2007 vs. nearly $155 billion for Starks planbut it would cover fewer people. While the Bush plan would cover one in five uninsured Americans, proposals like Starks or Wydens would cover nearly all of the uninsured, the report found.
Plans that would pool health risk by covering people in large groups would be the most efficient, saving anywhere from $57 billion to $74 billion in insurance administrative costs, the report found.
The Stark and Wyden proposals would achieve this. Specifically, Starks proposal would require the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices, adding an additional $33.9 billion to health system savings, the report stated. President Bushs proposal by comparison would achieve savings by reducing the comprehensiveness of coverage and inducing lower health service use rather than reducing insurance administrative costs, the report stated. Because more people would be expected to buy coverage through the individual insurance market under Bushs plan, the Funds report estimated that the costs of insurance administration nationally would increase by $5.5 billion.
If we dont move to make changes to our failing healthcare system, the number of uninsured in this country is projected to rise to 56 million by 2013, said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. Many of these proposals demonstrate that it is possible to move toward the high-performance healthcare system Americans want and deserve.