Providing Health Benefits for Over 200 Million Americans

With more than 46 million Americans lacking health care coverage, America’s Health Insurance Plans has taken the initiative to propose comprehensive health care reform that would provide near universal access to affordable health care. Our goal is to expand access to health insurance coverage to all children within three years and 95 percent of adults within 10 years.

Our plan would expand eligibility for public programs, enable all consumers to purchase health insurance with pre-tax dollars, provide financial assistance to help working families afford coverage, and encourage states to develop and implement access proposals.

Key elements of the AHIP plan include:

-Expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to make eligible all uninsured children from families with incomes under 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
-Improving and expanding Medicaid to make eligible all uninsured adults, including single adults, with incomes under 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Line.
-Establishing a Universal Health Account (UHA) to allow all individuals to purchase any type of health care coverage and pay for qualified medical expenses with pre-tax dollars, with federal matching grants for contributions made by working families to the UHA.
-Establishing a health tax credit of up to $500 for low-income families who secure health insurance for their children.
-Establishing a new $50-billion Federal Performance Grant to assist states in expanding access to coverage.

Over the last two decades, policymakers across the political spectrum have attempted to promote universal access to care, yet many of the same problems exist today. Too often, this debate has been has fallen victim to partisan politics.

Our plan avoids the political and economic pitfalls of the past by transcending the ideological divide, operating within the nation’s fiscal parameters, and adopting an approach that is targeted and phased-in. Already, we are encouraged by the positive feedback these proposals have received from leaders across the health policy spectrum. It’s a start. The window of opportunity is just beginning to open.

Now is the time for the country and our policymakers to seize the initiative. A survey conducted by Ayres, McHenry & Associates, Inc. and The Glover Park Group on behalf of AHIP found that 80 percent of adults want Congress and state legislatures to do more to extend access to coverage and that a majority of Republicans and Democrats favored every aspect of our plan. In that same survey, Americans also said that expanding health care access should be Congress’ top priority. We agree. Now it’s time to get to work.