Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Group Formed by Medicare Law Recommends Universal Care by 2012

JUNE 5, 2006 -- The Citizens' Health Care Working Group released its interim recommendations in a report Friday, calling for universal health care by 2012.

"Access to care means that everyone should be able to get the right care at the right time and at the right place," the report argues. "Appropriate health care must be available and affordable, as well as convenient and accessible for people in their communities."

The group was created by the 2003 Medicare drug law (PL 108-173) to develop health care recommendations for the president and Congress. The recent report reflects input from over 20,000 people in more than 75 community meetings.

The group recommends financing universal health care through new revenue streams such as enrollee contributions, income taxes or surcharges, "sin taxes," business or payroll taxes or value-added taxes. The report was a general outline of the plan. The group is still deciding whether to be more detailed in the plan's financing proposal in the final report.

Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy at the Heritage Foundation, said universal health care is possible but argued not through the financing means the working group advocates.

"It seems like they are reinventing an ancient wheel for revenue stream," Moffit said. He instead proposed paying for the coverage through rearranging subsidies.

The report acknowledges that the transition to universal health care will take time so multiple financing sources will need to coexist for the move.

Since the failure of President Bill Clinton's attempt to overhaul the nation's health care system, lawmakers have concentrated on piecemeal approaches. The Clinton administration, led by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., as first lady, attempted to create universal health care coverage.

Moffit said he doubts this report will result in action on universal health care by Congress. He argued that while the debate hasn't stopped for universal coverage, Congress doesn't have the stomach to overhaul the health care system now.

Massachusetts recently became the first state to require its 6.4 million residents—550,000 of whom are uninsured—to obtain health care coverage by July 1, 2007. However, lawmakers have stayed away from a national plan.

The working group's report also recommends establishing a non-partisan private/public group to identify and update a "core" benefits package; guaranteeing financial protection against high health care costs; introducing an integrated public/private health care providers network; increasing efforts to improve of quality of care and efficiency; and finding new ways to finance palliative care, hospice care, and other end-of-life services.

The public may comment on the report until August 31, and the final recommendations will be sent to the president and Congress at the end of September. The Medicare prescription drug law requires five congressional committees to hold hearings on the report.

The working group sent a copy of the report to Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the sponsors of the bill, and the leadership on the committees directed to hold hearings on the recommendations.

Publication Details