Proposed Bush budget seeks to expand healthcare access

April 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

President Bush's proposed budget for 2003 will boost funding to programs that provide healthcare for the uninsured and will create new tax supports to help purchase health insurance, according to the White House.

President Bush's proposed budget for 2003 will boost funding to programs that provide healthcare for the uninsured and will create new tax supports to help purchase health insurance, according to the White House.

Some of the initiatives proposed in the budget include:


•Â $89 billion in new health credits to make private health insurance more affordable for Americans who do not have employer-subsidized insurance.


•Â $1.5 billion for community-based health centers, a $114 million increase that would add 1,200 new and expanded health center sites over five years and ultimately double the number of patients treated.


•Â $350 million to continue funding Medicaid for families in transition from welfare to work.


•Â $191.5 million to strengthen the National Health Service Corps, which supports doctors, dentists and clinicians who serve in rural and inner-city areas that lack adequate access to care.


•Â A loosening of the restrictions on Medical Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to make the plans more attractive to individuals and employers, who otherwise might choose not to offer employee health insurance.

"By making comprehensive health insurance more affordable, these health credits will help millions of families to buy the security that comes with private health insurance," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said. "In addition, giving states the option of allowing residents to use their tax credits in conjunction with the power of group purchasing will enable states to expand access and provide a more comprehensive benefit package to moderate-income families that otherwise would be ineligible. These changes will help millions of uninsured Americans obtain health coverage."

Budget opposition

While some advocacy groups like the Washington-based American Public Health Association gave the president's budget mixed reviews, others gave the proposed budget poor marks across the board.

"In this time of economic recession, the American people need to be reassured that our healthcare system is stable and available when they need it most," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, also based in Washington. "The President's healthcare budget provides very little relief for seniors this year, allocating far less than will be needed to provide Medicare beneficiaries a meaningful drug benefit. With respect to the growing number of uninsured, the President's plan to offer individual tax credits to the uninsured fails to make health coverage affordable for low-income workers. Indeed, the administration's tax-credit proposal is leading the American people down a dangerous path." PR

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