ACP Supports Introduction of the HealthCARE Act of 2005
March 18, 2005
(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians (ACP) congratulates Representatives Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) on the introduction of the "Health Coverage, Affordability, Responsibility and Equity (HealthCARE) Act of 2005" (H.R. 1399).
The HealthCARE Act, which was originally developed by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), is based in large part on an ACP proposal that preserves and builds on the current health care system to provide affordable health insurance to all Americans in seven years. The bill possesses important elements missing from many other proposals -- it is realistic, pragmatic and capable of uniting opposing factions of the health and political system behind a single, viable approach.
- Under this plan, states would be given new options to expand the "safety net" of public programs for the poor, without imposing another unfunded budget mandate on economically strapped states.
- Advance, refundable tax credits will give eligible individuals the same dollar subsidy toward buying health insurance that the federal government provides its own employees.
- Tax credits could be used to buy individual coverage or coverage through a state purchasing arrangement modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefit program, giving recipients the ability to choose from the variety of affordable health plans available to members of Congress and other federal employees.
- Small businesses would have access to the same types and variety of affordable health plans through the state purchasing arrangements.
- States would be given the flexibility and federal funding support to develop their own innovative programs to cover the uninsured.
- An expert commission would recommend additional measures to make coverage available to all Americans by the end of the decade.
"This bill provides a sensible and bipartisan road map to insuring tens of millions of Americans who are exposed to grave health and financial risks because they do not have access to affordable health insurance," said Charles K. Francis, MD, FACP, president of ACP.
"Physicians know firsthand that, without insurance, children and adults do not have access to regular preventive and screening checkups. They often delay treatment until they are seriously ill -- leading to an increase in premature deaths and unnecessary suffering, as well as an increase in cost" said Dr. Francis. "The HealthCARE Act is a huge step forward in its nonpartisan approach to reforming the health insurance system.
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include more than 116,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illness in adults.