Families USA

FEBRUARY 1, 2006
5:16 AM

Dave Lemmon, Geraldine Henrich-Koenis
(202) 628-3030

President's Health Care Message is Most Notable for What Was Not Said
President Ignores New Medicare Drug Program While Repeating Old, Controversial Proposals Like Health Savings Accounts

WASHINGTON - February 1 - The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, about the President’s comments on health care in his State of the Union message:

“The most notable aspect of the President’s focus on health care was his total silence about the new Medicare prescription drug program. His silence speaks volumes about that program’s chaotic failures.

“The President did say that ‘our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly,’ but he failed to mention that he and the Congressional leadership are forcing through proposals that would cut Medicaid. These Medicaid cuts will drive many low-income seniors and children out of the system and leave millions of people without any health care coverage whatsoever. Millions of others will be forced to pay more in out-of-pocket costs and have access to fewer health care services.

“The President was correct, however, to recognize that greater attention should be devoted to making health care affordable. Unfortunately, the President’s fix for the growing affordability crisis—an expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for people purchasing high-deductible insurance policies—will make health care less affordable for most Americans.

“HSAs will disproportionately help the wealthy, who can afford insurance policies with high deductibles, and whose high tax brackets will make HSA tax breaks most helpful. But for moderate-income families, high-deductible health insurance policies will make health coverage less affordable.

“Instead of promoting the same old controversial health proposals, it is time for the President and Congress to work together in a bipartisan manner to address the health affordability crisis that is pricing more and more people out of the health care they need.”