WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration unveiled a plan Wednesday that relies largely on tax credits to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. The proposal set the stage for another partisan battle on Capitol Hill and renewed doubts that the growing number of Americans without health care would get any government help this year.
In his 2003 budget proposal, which he will submit to Congress on Monday, President Bush will ask for $89 billion over 10 years to help individuals and families buy private health insurance. Currently some 39 million Americans have no health insurance, and the recession and spiraling health costs threaten to push the numbers even higher.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, speaking at a community health center about two miles from the White House, said the tax credit -- up to $3,000 for a family with two or more children and earning less than $25,000 -- would bring health insurance to 6 million people over 10 years.
Conservatives say tax credits support the existing system of private insurance and allow consumers to choose their own health care plans, all without establishing new government bureaucracies.
But congressional Democrats and consumer advocates, citing private studies that indicate that the average group policy for a family of four costs more than $7,000, said the proposed credits would be far too small to help people most in need. And by encouraging a movement away from employer-based insurance to an individual market, the critics said, tax credits could ultimately make health insurance more expensive and harder to get for everyone.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.