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Dynamic Chiropractic – April 12, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 08

National Health Care Bill Introduced

By Steve Kelly, managing editor
On February 27, Marty Russo (D-Ill.) introduced bill HR1300 to Congress, a comprehensive plan to provide access to quality health care for all Americans. Cosponsored by Reps. Jim Moody (D-Wis.) and James McDermott (D-Wash.), the bill aims to reduce health costs for 95% of our citizens.

Under the plan every American would be entitled to hospital and physician care, long-term care, prescription drugs, preventative care, dental care, and mental health services ... with no copayments or deductibles. Individuals would choose their own physician or source or care.

"Our health care system is in a state of crisis," Rep. Russo said. "Thirty-seven million Americans are uninsured and millions more are underinsured. Children are denied pediatric care; pregnant mothers are shut out of prenatal care; working parents are impoverished by unexpected health costs; the elderly are denied access to long-term care; and our businesses are bankrupted by spiraling health care costs."

The bill's sponsors believe that HR1300 would save the nation $40 billion in health care costs by substituting a single, publicly administered national insurer, replacing the network of 1500-plus private insurance plans now in place. Health care providers would see a vast reduction in paperwork and the administrative costs of health insurance would be slashed. Currently 18% of hospital spending is for administration and billing; physicians spend close to 45% of their gross income on billing.

Supporters of the bill believe this plan would bring the U.S. inline with other industrialized nations which spend less on health care -- the U.S. spends 11.5% of GNP on health care -- while providing better health care. The U.S. ranks 13th in life expectancy and an appalling 22nd in infant mortality, according to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization.

HR1300 will be funded by what is described as "moderate increases in payroll taxes, personal and corporate income taxes and state and federal contributions." Proponents of the bill declare that despite tax increases, the savings for Americans would be dramatic. Families with average incomes of $27,000 would save $1,400 a year in health care costs.

Savings of 28 billion dollars for senior citizens is projected, while the non-elderly will save 25 billion dollars.

Rep. Russo states: "I want to work with any groups interested in shaping our health care system for the 21st century. The Russo plan is a first step toward a system which provides quality health care at a reasonable cost for all Americans."

The bill is supported by 10 large unions, and a number of citizen groups. Robert Brandon, vice president of Citizen Action, a nonprofit activist group that seeks to organize nationwide support for the bill, declared the Russo bill, "a cure for our diseased health care delivery system."

The proposal would replace employer and individual health insurance premiums with the following:

  • Social Security payroll tax would continue (1.45% of employees annual wages), but the amount paid by the employer (currently a matching amount) would increase to 7.5% of the employee's salary.

     

  • Corporate income tax rate would increase from 34% to 38% for businesses with more than $75,000 in profits.

     

  • Personal income tax rates would increase up to 38% for families with incomes above $200,000 (currently the maximum rate is 34%).

     

  • Up to 85% of Social Security benefits would be taxable as income, compared to the current 50% maximum.

     

  • The elderly would pay a premium of $55 a month for long-term care.

     

  • All federal health care monies would go to the national trust fund. Medicaid would be abolished. The states would pay to the trust fund 85% of what they now pay for Medicaid, plus a per-capita fee of $85.

ACA's Reaction

Commenting on the Russo bill, ACA director of governmental relations Richard Miller commended Congressman Russo and the co-sponsers of the bill for their efforts. However, Mr. Miller stated, "The Russo bill ... raises more questions than it answers. The full scope of those benefits which might be offered is not clear, and the freedom of choice of provider provision is vague. Mr. Miller added, " ... replacing private insurance plans with one single publicly administered insurer ... goes way beyond anything Congress is likely to seriously consider.

This bill, if seriously considered, would likely undergo radical modifications. Mr. Miller said, "I don't think doctors of chiropractic should be unduly alarmed or intrigued by the Russo proposal. It's simply one of many being tossed out for consideration ... Congress might very well do something to expand access to health care in the next couple of years, but it's likely to be done in phases or steps, not anything as sweeping or broad as the Russo proposal.

Steve Kelly
Assistant Editor


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