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Nation's Largest Medical Specialty Society Supports New "Sensible and Bipartisan" Bill to Expand Affordable Health Insurance

(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians (ACP) congratulates Representatives Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) on the introduction of the "Health Coverage, Affordability, Responsibility and Equity (HealthCARE) Act of 2003."

"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 Munsey Wheby, MD, president of the ACP. "Already, organizations representing nearly 300,000 doctors and millions of consumers have expressed their support for this legislation.

"During 2001 and 2002, 75 million Americans went without health insurance at some time. These working Americans went off to work each day without the security of knowing their families had access to needed medical care," said Dr. Wheby. "We can no longer afford to ignore the problem of the uninsured because it is too complex, too partisan or too risky."

The HealthCARE Act of 2003 is supported by ACP, the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Geriatrics Society, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Rheumatology, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Renal Physicians Association, and Families USA, a prominent advocacy voice for millions of American consumers. Last month, these same groups issued statements of support for an identical Senate version of the HealthCARE Act of 2003, introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) on May 8, 2003.

"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" said Dr. Wheby. "The HealthCARE Act is a huge step forward in its nonpartisan approach to reforming the health insurance system.

"Never before have so many doctors and consumers joined together to support a plan for expanding health insurance coverage," said Dr. Wheby. "Together, doctors and patients are speaking with a single voice to tell Congress that the time for inaction is over. The HealthCARE Act provides a sensible, achievable and bipartisan approach for breaking the logjam on the uninsured."

Dr. Wheby also expressed his appreciation for the support of other cosponsors of the legislation, including Representatives William Clay (D-MO), Jim Moran (D-VA), Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI), and Danny Davis (D-IL). The HealthCARE Act, which was originally developed by Senator Bingaman, 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 by 2010. 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.

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 115,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students.

Public Affairs Department, 202-261-4500

Page posted: 06/11/2003

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