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AHIP Proposal Called Promising Starting Point

MANAGED CARE December 2006. © MediMedia USA
News and Commentary

AHIP Proposal Called Promising Starting Point

MANAGED CARE December 2006. ©MediMedia USA

The timing was right for America's Health Insurance Plans to unveil a proposal last month that would cover all children and nearly all adults in the country, says Mohit Ghose, the lobbying association's spokesman. The $300 billion plan garnered headlines.

The AHIP proposal would:

  • Have Medicaid cover all adults with annual incomes less than the federal poverty level, currently about $9,800 for an individual and $16,600 for a family of three;
  • Have the Children's Health Insurance Program cover at least all children in families with annual incomes less than 200 percent of the poverty level; and
  • Have the federal government provide tax credits of $200 per child, with a maximum of $500 per family, for families with annual incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level that purchase health insurance for children.

"You don't have to look any further than the polling that we did," says Ghose. "Across the board — Democrat, Republican, and independent — we saw strong majorities being supportive of all of these proposals. But more importantly, we heard the resounding 'yes' — the American public's desire to see something done about these issues immediately."

Paul Fronstin, PhD, the director of the health research and education program, at the Employee Health Benefit Research Institute, says that, "Yeah, it's a wish list, but you've got to start talking about it somewhere. Policymakers just really haven't been addressing this."

Others, from coast to coast, point to the dearth of details in the plan, which was unveiled on Nov. 13. The Los Angeles Times says it omits "key elements that would determine whether it is even workable." The New York Times says that the AHIP recommended did not speak to ways to reduce health care costs.