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

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How the College is continuing
the fight for access to care

From the March 2000 ACP–ASIM Observer, copyright © 2000 by the American College of Physicians–American Society of Internal Medicine.

The College views recent proposals from the president and Congress as positive developments in the struggle for universal coverage, but it is continuing to push politicians and policy-makers to do more to make the issue a priority.

ACP­ASIM supported some of the proposals President Clinton outlined in his State of the Union address that would help expand access to care. The president proposed making parents eligible for the coverage their children receive from the Children's Health Insurance Program, creating a $3,000 per year tax credit for long-term care and allowing Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare.

In a Jan. 31 statement, the College said that Mr. Clinton's ideas to expand health care coverage for the uninsured are a positive step toward achieving universal coverage. "President Clinton's proposal contains many of the same elements of the plan" released in February 1999 by the College, said ACP­ASIM President Whitney W. Addington, FACP. "Like President Clinton, we believe that the expansion of existing government programs—coupled with the use of tax credits—can help significantly reduce the number of America's uninsured."

The College's plan calls for the government to create a tax credit for uninsured Americans with incomes between 100% and 150% of the poverty level, expand Medicaid coverage to all Americans with incomes up to 100% of the poverty level and expand Medicaid funds.

ACP­ASIM also supported the intent of the latest proposal from Congress to provide refundable health insurance credits for low-income Americans to subsidize health coverage. The proposal was unveiled by Sens. James Jeffords (R-Vt.), John Breaux (D-La.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), and by House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Texas).

While the Congressional proposal is very similar to the College's plan of providing low- or moderate-income individuals with a tax credit for purchasing health insurance, ACP­ASIM officials said that the credits proposed by Congress should be increased to better meet the needs of the low-income uninsured. The College is urging bipartisan support to raise the tax credit amount.

Finally, while the College has been working with elected officials to make access to care a priority, it has also been trying to make access an issue in the presidential primaries. As part of the "Decision 2000" campaign to make the uninsured a key issue in the presidential and congressional campaigns, the College ran four full-page newspaper ads to educate voters about the health risks encountered by those without insurance. (For more information about the College's efforts in the primaries, see "How is the College working to influence the 2000 elections?" from the February ACP­ASIM Observer.)

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