American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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College unveils new plan to care for the uninsured

From the March 1999 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright © 1999 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

By Jan Simmons

WASHINGTON—At a Feb. 10 press conference, ACP-ASIM unveiled a new plan that would help at least 10.5 million uninsured Americans gain health care coverage.

As part of the plan, the College is calling on Congress to dedicate an amount equal to 12.6% of the projected budget surplus of $934 billion over the next five years to expand access to health care. An estimated 43 million Americans currently lack health care coverage.

Under the College's plan, budget surplus funds would help low- to moderate-income individuals obtain coverage by doing the following:

  • Enacting a refundable tax credit for uninsured Americans whose incomes fall between 100% and 150% of the poverty level. This tax credit would permit individuals to buy health insurance.
  • Expanding Medicaid to provide coverage to Americans with incomes up to 100% of the poverty level, or individuals who work but still lack coverage.
  • Expanding funding for Medicaid enrollment outreach. Millions of Americans who are eligible for coverage lack health care benefits simply because they do not know that they are eligible for benefits.
  • Providing subsidies for temporarily unemployed and uninsured persons under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

At the Washington press conference where the proposal was introduced, ACP-ASIM President-elect Whitney W. Addington, FACP, pointed out that research data show that uninsured individuals have fewer visits to physicians, fewer mammograms, fewer immunizations and more emergency room visits.

"In a time of unprecedented national prosperity, it is simply unconscionable that so many working Americans must live in fear of impoverishment because they do not have health insurance," ACP-ASIM President Harold C. Sox, FACP, said in a statement. "An expanding economy has not solved the problem of the uninsured."

A full copy of the position is available in the "Where We Stand" section of ACP-ASIM Online (www.acponline.org).

Jan Simmons is a Washington, D.C.-based writer specializing in health care.

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