America’s Health Insurance Plans last week launched an initiative to persuade the federal government and the states to provide access to affordable health insurance for the uninsured through a comprehensive new set of what the group’s officials are calling “targeted policy proposals.”
The proposals, taken together, would expand eligibility for public programs, enable all consumers to purchase health insurance with pre-tax dollars, provide financial assistance to help working families afford coverage and encourage states to develop and implement access proposals.
Specifically, the AHIP plan calls for enactment of federal legislation that provides significant financial incentives to states and makes changes to federal tax policy to make health coverage more affordable.
A critical component of the program calls for expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to make eligible all uninsured children from families with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level.
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The fact that the program expires in 2007 may work to the benefit of AHIP because Congress is seen as likely to renew it. “It’s a logical starting point,” confirmed Mohit Ghose, an AHIP spokesman.
“No one piece of our initiative takes precedence over another, but this would be a good starting point toward our desire for a federal/state and public/private partnership to provide healthcare for all children in 3 years and 95% adults in 10 years,” he said.
Later on the same day that AHIP unveiled its proposals, the Subcommittee on Health Care of the Committee on Finance scheduled a hearing for testimony on “The SCHIP Program from the States’ Perspective.”
“The leaders of the nation’s health insurers are united in a strong belief that every American should have access to health care coverage,” said J. Grover Thomas Jr., chairman, Trustmark Mutual Holding Company, and chairman of AHIP’s board. “This bold program would expand coverage to tens of millions within a framework that is fiscally sound and promotes individual responsibility.”