Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Healthy Americans Act

Senators Rob Wyden (D Oregon) and Bob Bennett (R Utah) made a big push earlier this week for their proposed Healthy Americans Act (S. 334) They published an op ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining

Here's how our legislation, the Healthy Americans Act, would work: All Americans, other than those in Medicare or the military, would be given incentives to buy basic private health plans. Individuals at or below the poverty level would receive a subsidy to buy insurance. And states would be given more flexibility (within a federal framework) to give consumers more choices in insurance available on the private market.

These reforms would make health insurance portable (Americans could take it to wherever they work) and make access to health care universal and affordable. They would also give individuals more control over where their health-care dollars go. And they would break the link between health insurance and employment, freeing employers of a burden they've carried since World War II wage and price controls forced them to offer health benefits instead of pay raises.

How would this be possible? Currently the tax code gives the affluent the biggest health-care breaks. Our bill would rewrite the code to give every individual a tax benefit for buying health insurance. That would create an incentive to buy insurance. That, in turn, would push the health insurance industry to offer more competitive plans and create a more dynamic insurance market.

The bill would do away with employer sponsored health insurance including the FEHB Program (§ 672).

The Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on the bill on June 26. According to Modern, Committee members expressed support for the bill's approach.

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