Washington, D.C., May 12, 2004—As a national supporter of Cover the Uninsured Week, the American Public Health Association today expressed dismay as the U.S. House of Representatives began considering several health-related bills that would do little to help uninsured Americans gain access to comprehensive, affordable health care.
The measures being considered by the House include a proposal to create health savings accounts to provide a tax break to individuals for purchasing health insurance, the overwhelming majority of who already have coverage and can afford it. Another measure to create association health plans would allow small employers to purchase health insurance together outside of most state insurance laws thereby weakening consumer protections and undermining the existing group market.
“Congress is missing the mark,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “More than 43.6 million Americans are living without health insurance. President Bush’s proposed health savings accounts, association health plans and individual tax credits would reach less than 5 percent of uninsured Americans. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.”
The American Public Health Association strongly encourages Congress to put its efforts into passing legislation that:
- provides every American with guaranteed comprehensive, affordable health care that removes financial barriers to care;
- provides preventive diagnostic and therapeutic services for all types of health conditions; and
- eliminates disparities in health care access and treatment that occur by gender, race and ethnicity, education level, income level, disability, geographic location and sexual orientation.