Today, President Bush will speak to a gathering of the American Hospital Association, but will offer more of the same special-interest driven agenda that won't alleviate the problems faced by tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
"The only thing President Bush is covering the uninsured with is more failed policies and misleading rhetoric," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. "President Bush has undermined the health security of our nation, from the number of uninsured to the impact on our businesses and on America's families.
"Millions of Americans have been forced to go without health insurance and those with coverage are paying skyrocketing premiums. But, President Bush and the Republican Congress have merely offered more of the same special interest-driven agenda. Together, America can do better. President Bush and Republicans in Washington should join Democrats in fighting for access to affordable health care for all Americans, not just those who can afford it."
Premiums For Employer-Based Insurance Up 9 Percent in 2005. Premiums for employer-based health insurance rose by 9.2 percent in 2005, the fifth consecutive year of increases over 9 percent. All types of health plans -- including health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and point-of-service plans (POS) -- showed this increase. [Kaiser Family Foundation, Employee Health Benefits: 2005 Annual Survey, 9/14/05]
Employer-Based Insurance Premiums Outpacing Wages. Since 2000, employment-based health insurance premiums have increased 73 percent, compared to cumulative inflation of 14 percent and cumulative wage growth of 15 percent during the same period. Workers are now paying $1,094 more in premiums annually for family coverage than they did in 2000. [Kaiser Family Foundation, Employee Health Benefits: 2005 Annual Survey, 9/14/05]
Bush Pushing for Health Coverage That Will Double Cost of Traditional Health Plans. Bush is pushing a shift to a "consumer-based healthcare," where costs are cut because patients pay more medical bills out of their own pocket. But this would segment the insurance market by encouraging young, healthy workers to drop out of group coverage. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Premiums for comprehensive, employer-based coverage could more than double if such accounts became widespread, according to major studies conducted in the past by RAND, the Urban Institute, and the American Academy of Actuaries." Ultimately, traditional plans would be driven out of the market as premiums spiral upward. [National Journal, 1/24/04; CBPP Fact Sheet, www.cbpp.org, 12/8/03; Gail Shearer, Testimony Before Joint Economic Committee, 2/25/04, www.consumersunion.org]
The Wealthy Will Be Chief Beneficiaries From Bush's Health Savings Accounts. Under the Bush Medicare bill, both deposits and withdrawals are tax exempt, making them an ideal mechanism to reduce taxable income for the affluent. If individuals simply wait until retirement age, they can withdraw these funds for non-medical purposes with no penalty. In fact, the GAO has found that insurers have historically marketed such accounts primarily for tax advantages, not health benefits. [Democratic Policy Committee, democrats.senate.gov; CBPP, 3/2/00, 12/1/03]
Health Savings Accounts Will Cut Coverage, While Not Addressing The Uninsured Problem. Tax deductions will do nothing to help most uninsured people. According to the GAO, 90 percent of the uninsured pay at or below the 15 percent tax bracket, meaning they would receive little benefit from the Bush policies. Alan Weir of the Urban Institute: "[A]t best, the budget proposal helps the wealthiest Americans while doing nothing for the uninsured. But at worst, the proposal increases the incentive for healthy people to leave the broader risk pool, thereby increasing premiums for everyone else, and making it harder for employers to continue providing coverage to their employees." [GAO, 6/10/98; Ronald Pollack, Testimony Dem. Policy Committee, 1/6/04; Gail Shearer, Testimony Joint Economic Committee, 2/25/04; CBPP, 2/18/04; Alan Weil, Testimony House Budget Committee, 2/26/04]