AL Gore Essay, Research Paper
Today Al Gore unveiled his new health care vision for the 21st century to expand health care coverage for those who do not have it and improve it for those who do. He focused on his new plan to expand access to affordable health insurance for every child by 2005 and make health coverage more affordable for millions of adults.
As detailed this plan, he outlined five bold steps to improve every aspect of the health care system. They are: (1) assuring rights for patients by passing legislation to keep medical records private and a strong enforceable Patients’ Bill of Rights that gives patients critical protections, such as access to specialists, access to emergency room services and making health plans accountable for harming patients; (2) modernizing health care by focusing on prevention, individual responsibility, and new technologies to improve and measure quality; (3) building on the progress and possibilities of new research while protecting against the perils, such as genetic discrimination; (4) addressing the nations’ unprecedented challenges due to the aging of the baby boomers by strengthening and modernizing Medicare, including providing a prescription drug benefit, and by proposing initiatives to support families with long-term care needs; and (5) working towards the goal of assuring all Americans have access to quality health care coverage.
Today, at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Al Gore outlined his new plan to expand health care coverage for America’s families. It has seven major elements:
(1) Ensuring That All Children Have Access to Affordable Health Insurance by 2005. The over 11 million children who are uninsured are less likely to be immunized, get regular checkups, and tend to fall behind in school. In 1997, the Clinton-Gore Administration fought for and enacted the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – the largest investment in children’s health in a generation — to expand coverage to children in families with too much income for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance. However, in some states nearly 25 percent of children are still uninsured and even where there have been program expansions, enrollment has been woefully inadequate.
Today, Al Gore is proposing to build on this initiative and assure that all American children have access to affordable health insurance by 2005. To reach this goal and help ensure that all children are signed up for health insurance, he is proposing three steps:
- Expanding CHIP to children up to 250 percent of poverty (about $41,000 for a family of four) to increase the number of uninsured children eligible for the program. The current program allows states to cover children in families with up to 200 percent of poverty. There are nearly one million uninsured children in families with income between 200 and 250 percent of poverty. States expanding eligibility for children to those in families with income up to 250 percent of poverty would receive an increase in their CHIP allotment, based on the number of uninsured children in the expanded population. They would receive the same enhanced match that has led all fifty states to apply to participate in the CHIP program.
- Allowing children above 250 percent of poverty who do not have coverage to buy into CHIP or Medicaid. Over two million uninsured children are in families with income above 250 percent of poverty. This would provide a new option for children not eligible for CHIP, Medicaid or employer-based insurance. Families would pay the full premium, but the premium itself will be more affordable than most individual insurance options. In addition, families could use the new 25 percent tax credit (described below) toward this coverage.
- Ensuring that children eligible for CHIP or Medicaid are enrolled. Over seven million children are in families that are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid. To help ensure that children eligible for these free and low-cost health insurance programs get enrolled, this policy would (1) provide financial bonuses to states that meet enrollment targets, which would be phased in by 2005; (2) reduced states’ CHIP enhanced matching rate if they do not meet these targets; and (3) develop a school-based strategy for enrollment. Together, these policies would guarantee universal access to affordable children’s health insurance by 2005.
(2) Expanding Health Care Coverage for Working Parents. CHIP was created because of the high number of working families whose children were uninsured. Unfortunately, most of these children (over 85 percent) come from families where the parents are uninsured themselves. To help the 7 million uninsured parents of Medicaid or CHIP-eligible children, Al Gore would expand CHIP to parents. States could access higher Federal matching payments (same as CHIP) to cover the parents of children already enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP. This efficiently and effectively offers a large proportion of the uninsured an affordable health insurance option and helps create a health care system that rewards families. States could set the upper-income eligibility level where they wished but would have to cover all parents below the income limits (i.e. states could not favor higher over lower-income parents). This proposal will also help assure that more uninsured children enroll because families are more likely to take advantage of new health care programs if the coverage is available for every family member.
(3) Providing Affordable Health Care Options for Americans Ages 55 to 65. Americans ages 55 to 65