Group Urges Federal Government to Provide Basic Health Care for All

June 12, 2006 ( - A 14-member committee set up by Congress to figure out what people want when it comes to health care recommends that the federal government provide universal health care coverage.

class=”rdheadline”> According to the Associated Press, The Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, which was formed in late 2003, does not offer a specific plan as to who would pay for the coverage, nor does it speculate on the price tag of such a guarantee. The recommendations do, however, contradict President Bush’s stance that consumers should absorb more of the cost for their initial medical expenses.

class=”rdheadline”> The group did make a vague recommendation as to the funding source of universal health care, which includes pulling enrollee contributions, income taxes, taxes on alcohol and cigarettes and payroll taxes, the AP reported. The group’s report also said benefits should be “portable and independent of health status, working status, age (and) income.”

The committee’s recommendation will be open to 90 days of public comment and then presented to Congress, followed by five congressional committee hearings.

The group was started by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in an effort to have a group that steps outside of Washington to see what Americans want, the wire service reported.

Some are already reticent to accept this approach to health care. “It implies massive new funding sources, massive new laws would be needed,” Sarah Berk, executive director of Health Care America, an advocacy group that pushes free market approaches to health coverage, told the AP. “We want universal access, but this report just pushes all the difficult problems onto somebody else’s plate. It says government needs to do it all.”

The committees recommendation comes at a time when employers are looking for solutions to the high costs of health care. One recent survey by Aon Consulting says these costs may climb even more, forecasting a 12.2% increase for HMOs in the next year, a 12.4$ rise for PPOs and a 11.9% rise for POS plans (See Survey Says Health Care Costs May Increase Again).