Bradley's Plan For Near-Universal Health Coverage

September 29, 1999

"It's a step in the right direction," said Stuart Butler of the conservative Heritage Foundation, responding to tax incentives in the health plan unveiled yesterday by former Sen. Bill Bradley, a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. It's too expensive, says the campaign Vice President Al Gore.

Calling health care "an American birthright," Bradley said all parents should be required to insure their children, and proposed a $65 billion a year plan he said would make health care available to 95 percent of the roughly 45 million uninsured Americans.

The plan would expand federal tax subsidies and insurance programs:

  • Lower-income adults and children would be allowed to join, with little or no premiums, the federal government's health insurance system; alternatively, they could receive tax credits for premiums paid to private insurance plans.
  • The federal government would pay the cost of insurance premiums for children in families earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level ($32,800 for a family of four), and would provide a partial premium subsidy for children in households with as much as $49,200 in gross annual income (300 percent of the poverty level).
  • For higher income families, Bradley proposed making all health insurance premiums excludable from federal taxes.
  • And Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, would be replaced by a new program funded entirely by the federal government, while the states would pick up the cost of long-term nursing home care for the elderly now paid by Medicaid, for a net savings to the states of $18 billion.

Bradley also proposed expanding Medicare benefits by paying for prescription drugs for chronic and catastrophic conditions. The programs would be funded by using 70 percent of the non-Social Security surplus, which is projected to total $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Sources: James Dao, "Bradley Presents Health Plan for Almost All the Uninsured," New York Times, September 29, 1999, and Jackie Calmes, "Bill Bradley Lays Out His 'Big Ideas' Strategy, Calling Health Care an 'American Birthright,'" Wall Street Journal, September 29, 1999.

 

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