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Lieberman Hails 'Pioneering Work' of American College of Physicians in Release of His Health Reform Plan

ACP Plan Builds on Existing System

(Washington, DC): The release of Senator Joseph Lieberman's proposal to expand health insurance coverage represents a step forward to achieving bipartisan consensus on effective and viable reforms that offer more choice to individuals and businesses, according to the American College of Physicians (ACP).

Yesterday, Presidential candidate Senator Lieberman acknowledged the "pioneering work" of the ACP when he announced the release of his plan to expand health insurance coverage. Several of the elements in Senator Lieberman's proposal reflect ACP's ideas for expanding coverage and choice, including expanding coverage in steps through enhancements in public safety-net programs (Medicaid and S-CHIP); making coverage more affordable by establishing purchasing groups modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; and providing advance, refundable tax credits to make coverage affordable to lower-income workers. According to Senator Lieberman, the MediChoice section of his plan "reflects concepts originally proposed by the American College of Physicians, captures the leading thought in health care and provides a comprehensive approach to universal access to affordable insurance." Senator Lieberman's proposal, however, includes elements that are not included in ACP's plan or that differ in some other respects.

"As a non-partisan professional society, the College has offered its ideas to all of the candidates for President and members of Congress from both political parties. We are encouraged whenever a major Presidential candidate joins with us in calling for viable and effective reforms that build upon the existing pluralistic system of health insurance coverage, and we appreciate Senator Lieberman's acknowledgement of the value of our policy contributions," said ACP President Munsey Wheby, MD, and FACP. "We will continue to share our ideas with the candidates, the White House, and with members of Congress from both political parties. Our hope is that the Presidential election will contribute to the goal of reaching a bipartisan consensus on real solutions to the problems of the uninsured, rather than polarizing the issue along partisan lines."

Dr. Wheby noted that ACP's own proposal for health coverage reform has been introduced in the form of a bipartisan bill in the House and Senate, the Health Coverage, Affordability, Responsibility and Equity Act of 2003, H.R. 2402 /S. 1030. The bill has garnered support from a wide variety of physician organizations, consumer groups and politicians since it was first introduced earlier this year.

ACP believes any proposal for reform must meet certain minimal requirements:

  1. All Americans must have affordable health coverage by a specific time.
  2. The plan should be designed to achieve a politically viable consensus-with measures that will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats-- and retain successful features of the health insurance system that currently insures 85% of Americans successfully.
  3. The plan should provide more choices to individuals and businesses, rather than imposing new bureaucracies and unfunded mandates.

A full copy of the ACP proposal is available online.

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.

Jack Pope, (202) 261-4556, jpope@acponline.org

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Page Updated: 11-03-03

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