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ACP-ASIM Recommends Tax Credits as a Possible Way to Reduce the Numbers of Uninsured

(Washington, DC): As unemployment rises, lack of health insurance is becoming a problem for an increasing number of Americans. The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) is committed to finding ways to reduce the numbers of the uninsured and recommends tax credits as a partial solution.

"The College has a long history of advocating for reforms to provide all Americans with access to health insurance coverage," stated Dr. William J. Hall, president of ACP-ASIM. "We urge elected leaders and policymakers to focus their attention on the serious health crisis faced by uninsured Americans."

The benefit of tax credits is straightforward; the credits reduce the insurance premium a person would have to pay, making coverage more affordable. However, the tax credit subsidy must be large enough, nearly the full amount of the premium, to ensure of affordable coverage.

The College has made a series of recommendations for the design of an effective tax credit program.

  1. Provide a high enough tax subsidy for low wage workers to afford to buy coverage.

  2. Make the subsidy available at the time that the premium is paid through an advance payment option.

  3. Allow low wage individuals who have no income tax liability to claim the credit by making the tax credit refundable.

  4. Target low-to-moderate income individuals and families.

  5. The full or near full credit should be maintained as long as possible over the eligible income range. The phase-out of the credit will be abrupt at a certain point but this structure will maximize participation among the previously uninsured.

  6. Eliminate incentives for employers who already provide health insurance to their employees to drop coverage.

  7. Reform the individual and small group health insurance markets. Those without access to an employer-sponsored insurance policy must be given a source for purchasing insurance coverage.

  8. Develop purchasing pools or cooperatives for the purchase of individual or small group insurance.

"The ACP-ASIM believes tax credits should be part of a multi-tiered approach to expanding health insurance coverage. We must also continue to expand the successful programs such as Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)," stated Dr. Hall.

The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine represents more than 115,000 physicians and medical students. It is the largest medical specialty society and the second largest medical organization in the United States.

Contact:

Jack Pope, Washington Office, (202) 261-4556
Jennifer Whalen, Washington Office, (202) 261-4575

Page updated: 11-04-03

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