Friday, September 29, 2006
The New York Times reported earlier this week that an advisory panel appointed by the Comptroller General concluded that "Congress should take immediate steps to guarantee that all Americans have access to affordable health care by 2012." The Times reports,
The panel, the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, said Congress should create an independent “public-private entity” to define a basic set of health care benefits and services for all Americans.
While leaving many details to be worked out, the panel declared, “It should be public policy, written in law, that all Americans have affordable access to health care.”
The panel was created by the 2003 law that added a drug benefit to Medicare. Under the law, President Bush has 45 days to comment on the recommendations and offer a report to Congress. Five Congressional committees are then supposed to hold hearings on the proposals. . . .
The number of uninsured Americans keeps growing despite fluctuations in the economy, and the report from the working group increases the chances that health care will be a major issue as candidates gear up for the 2008 presidential race.
Census Bureau figures show that 39.7 million people lacked health insurance in 1993, when President Bill Clinton took office. The number rose, to 44.3 million in 1998, and then began to decline. Since 2001, when President Bush took office, the number of uninsured has increased by more than 5 million, to 46.6 million in 2005.