WASHINGTON - February 2 - The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, about President Bush's proposed health care budget:
"President Bush's budget provides no relief for Americans struggling with skyrocketing health costs, many of whom are losing their health insurance. It is a rehash of his stale proposals that fail to address our nation's growing health care crisis.
"The President's ill-conceived proposals include:
* Expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): This proposal provides tax cuts for the wealthiest and healthiest Americans and will hurt many millions of others who can't afford high-deductible insurance policies. As a result, health insurance premiums will increase and become unaffordable for sicker and older individuals.
* Individual Tax Credits: These $2,000-3,000 tax credits for family health coverage, which often cost $10,000 or more, will still leave health insurance unaffordable. It's like throwing a 10-foot rope to a person in a 40-foot hole.
* Association Health Plans (AHPs): AHPs, which allow small employers to band together to purchase health insurance and exempts them from state insurance laws, will lead to greater discrimination against sick and disabled people. Today, state laws protect against discrimination in the sale of health insurance and the proposed AHP legislation would nullify those protections.
* Medicaid Funding Cuts: The President also proposes a significant reduction over the next ten years in federal Medicaid funds, which will make it difficult for cash-strapped states to sustain health services for the poor.
"America's poorest and sickest, struggling to cope with fast-rising health costs, deserve better than the President's stale and harmful proposals. The time for real action is now."