For Immediate Release
February 10, 1999
ACP-ASIM Washington Office
|Jamie Winson Bass
ACP-ASIM Washington Office
Plan Relies on Tax Credits, Expansion of Medicaid
ACP-ASIM Unveils Plan To Provide Health Insurance To More Than 10 Million Uninsured Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- More than 10 million uninsured Americans would gain access to health care coverage under a proposal released today by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM).
The plan calls on Congress to dedicate an amount equal to 12.6 percent of the projected federal budget surplus of $934 billion over the next five years toward expanding access to health insurance coverage. The funds would target low-to-moderate income Americans by:
- Creating a refundable tax credit for uninsured Americans whose incomes fall between 100-150 percent of the poverty level.
- Expanding Medicaid coverage to encompass all Americans with incomes up to 100 percent of poverty.
- Expanding funding for Medicaid enrollment outreach.
- Providing federal subsidies for temporarily unemployed and uninsured persons to obtain coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
The five-year total cost of the proposal would come to $116.7 billion, which would make health insurance coverage available for an estimated 10.5 million Americans. ACP-ASIM's recommendation that Congress commit funds equal to one out of eight dollars of the surplus reflects the cost of funding targeted initiatives to reach the most vulnerable group of uninsured people-working Americans with incomes up to 150 percent of poverty.
"In a time of unprecedented national prosperity, it is simply unconscionable that so many working Americans must live in fear of impoverishment because they do not have health insurance," said ACP-ASIM President Harold C. Sox, MD. "An expanding economy has not solved the problem of the uninsured. The federal government must take action."
ACP-ASIM is not insisting that the funds come only from the budget surplus. The College also suggests that Congress consider offsetting some of the costs by raising revenue or reducing unneeded expenditures in other areas. For example, ACP-ASIM strongly supports an increase in taxes on tobacco products as a potential source for funding its proposal.
"The available research shows that uninsured persons delay making needed visits to physicians, receive fewer life-saving screening tests like mammograms, receive fewer immunizations, and make more emergency room visits," said ACP-ASIM President-elect Whitney W. Addington, MD, a nationally recognized expert on the problems of the uninsured. "The result is that they have more severe illnesses, experience more suffering, and are more likely to die prematurely than insured Americans."
ACP-ASIM also called on America's leaders to begin a serious national debate on ways to provide universal coverage within the next five years.
ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization, and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America.
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Note to Editors: A copy of the ACP-ASIM plan for expanding coverage for the uninsured is available online.