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Congressional proposals would cover all uninsured, reduce US health spending by up to $61B

e, two currently introduced bills propose state demonstrations to expand health insurance. These bills do not provide enough details to estimate their cost. However, the analysis assumed a model where 15 states (Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin) would implement a blended version of Massachusetts's Commonwealth Care and Governor Schwarzenegger's health proposal for California, with federal matching funds provided for Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) expansions. Based on this model, about 20 million people are estimated to gain coverage out of 23.6 million currently uninsured in those 15 states.

"The Institute of Medicine estimates that the poor health and shorter life spans of the uninsured cost between $65 billion and $130 billion a year," said Sara Collins, assistant vice president for the Future of Health Insurance at the Commonwealth Fund and lead author of the report. "That provides a stark benchmark against which we can compare the cost of inaction versus the costs and savings of investing in a more rational and equitable system of health care in the United States."

The analysis looked at 10 health care plans introduced in the 109th and 110th Congresses (see attached list of plans reviewed). In addition to reviewing President Bush's and other sweeping proposals, researchers looked at more modest ideas such as expanding existing public health insurance programs like Medicare and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and strengthening employer-based health insurance. The researchers found that these proposals also hold promise for reducing the number of uninsured, projected to reach nearly 48 million in 2007, and could serve as a first step toward universal coverage.

According to the report, premium subsidies and new tax provisions in the bills greatly affect family health spen
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
19-Mar-2007


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