Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, was at Primary Children's Medical Center Friday to talk with residents and doctors about the Healthy Americans Act, bipartisan health reform legislation he's co-sponsoring.
The act now has support and co-sponsorship from seven Republicans and seven Democrats in the Senate, including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who came up with the original blueprint. And in early May, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation released a report that said the bill achieves its goals without massive government spending.
That goal is finding a way to provide health insurance to those who don't have it, without creating a socialized medicine system. No serious debate on the proposal is expected until the 2008 elections are behind.
The report by the CBO is based on the assumption that the earliest the measure could actually be phased in would be 2012. It said that implementation would actually create budget surpluses by 2014.
The heart of the health reform measure is the requirement that people purchase private health insurance. State's would operate purchasing pools, and the federal government would collect premiums and provide subsidies. There's nothing to prohibit employers from offering insurance, but most people who are not enrolled in Medicare would get basic coverage through the new system. And most of those with Medicaid, as well as children in the SCHIP program, would get their insurance coverage under the new system.
The act guarantees every American can access private health insurance and lets them choose where to receive care. The link between employment and insurance is broken so that insurance is portable as someone changes jobs. Incentives are offered for healthy choices and insurers are expected to compete on price, benefits and quality.
The CBO report is online at www.cbo.gov.