We are pleased that President Clinton and the Republican leadership in Congress have put health care and health insurance on the political agenda this year. It is time to move beyond the lingering divisiveness engendered by the health care reform debate of 1993-94. Not only can we begin to solve the problems that beset our health care system, but we must. The gaps in the system today – most notably the rising number of people who have no health insurance – undermine family strength and security and thus the nation’s productivity.
We applaud the President for his continued commitment to expanding access to health care for people of all ages. His proposals to strengthen Medicare – by adding benefits and devoting a portion of the projected federal budget surplus to the program over the next decade – merit serious consideration.
Both the administration and Republicans in Congress appear poised to debate in earnest using the income tax system to make health insurance and health care more affordable. Although we believe there are many philosophical, technical and fiscal questions still to be addressed about using tax deductions and tax credits to expand access to health insurance, it’s time to look closely at proposals such as these.
As Congress begins its work on these issues, we hope lawmakers will keep uppermost in mind that the chronic problems in our health system are deeply interrelated. A continually rising number of uninsured persons makes controlling rising medical costs much, much harder. Likewise, medical costs and health insurance premiums rising at two to three times the rate of inflation threaten to further erode both insurance coverage and the quality of care for millions of people.
The Coalition looks forward to working with the administration and Congress – on a bipartisan basis – to find new and innovative ways to assure all Americans access to affordable health insurance and timely, high quality medical care.
The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) is the nation’s most broadly representative, non-profit, nonpartisan alliance working to improve America’s health and health care system. Former Presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford serve as Honorary Co-Chairs. NCHC is comprised of nearly 90 organizations. They include large and small businesses, labor unions and consumer, religious and health care provider groups.