NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FEINGOLD MISDIAGNOSES HEALTH CARE REFORM

July 26, 2006

A new effort to develop state-based universal health care programs is a move in the wrong direction, according to experts with National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).  Under a bill introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) states would be encouraged to develop pilot programs for universal care.  Under the plan, states would have a partial stake in the cost and a full stake in the implementation of the programs.

"All of these grand schemes for universal health care are overlooking the root of the issue," said NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick.  "They aren't taking into account why people are uninsured in America. Only a fraction of the 46 million uninsured lack access to coverage."

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data (2004), of the estimated 46 million uninsured:

  • One-third live in households earning more than $50,000 per year.
  • About 12 million people qualify for government programs, like the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and Medicaid, but have not bothered to enroll.
  • An estimated 10 million are immigrants, many of whom are undocumented.

The goal should be to get as many people as possible in to private health plans, continued Herrick. Universal health plans require tax-payers to subsidize health care for those citizens who choose not to purchase private care.  Recent research found that for every dollar spent to expand public health care programs, between 49 cents and 74 cents actually go to subsidize people who have dropped private coverage.

"It is actually possible to increase spending on public programs without reducing the number of uninsured," said Herrick.  "Our energies would be much better spent designing coverage to suit people's needs and encouraging them to see health insurance as a good buy."

Source: Health Care News Alert, "Feingold Misdiagnoses Health Care Reform; NCPA Expert Says Plan Does Not Address the Real Problem," National Center for Policy Analysis, July 26, 2006.

 

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