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September 29, 2000
Washington, DC  – For five years the HMO lobby has argued against federal managed care reform legislation by alleging that any increase in health premiums equate into more Americans joining the ranks of the uninsured.   Today, the argument exploded in HMO boardrooms across the country as the U.S. Census Bureau reported that for the first time since 1987, the number of uninsured Americans decreased last year, in spite of an 8.3% rise in health premiums. 

According to the Census Report, the number of uninsured Americans decreased last year from 44.2 million to 42.5 million.  The Bureau attributed the improvement to the nation’s continued economic expansion, and increased enrollment in the Children’s Health Improvement Program (CHIPs). 

In today’s Associated Press report on the statistics, HIAA officials were quoted as acknowledging that employment based policies have increased from 148 million to 172 million since 1993, in spite of premium increases every year during that period. 

            “The HMO lobby has known all along their contention was wrong, even their own statistics confirm it wrong,” says U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA), co-author of the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act of 2000, currently under negotiations in the House and Senate.  “But this report absolutely throws it back in their face, the day after they held a Capitol Hill news conference making the same old false charges.” 

“For any of our Senators who are undecided on how to vote on this issue, this report should convince them as to who’s been telling the truth in this debate, and pave the way for a vote on the new compromise bill next week,” says Norwood. 

Norwood acknowledges premium costs to be one of multiple hurdles facing uninsured Americans, and has long advocated passage of “access” provisions such as Medical Savings Accounts (MSA’s), tax credits up to $3000 per year for uninsured families, and 100% tax deductibility for the self-employed, in addition to overall managed care reform legislation.    

The latest compromise proposal includes both MSA’s and 100% tax deductibility for self-employed individuals, along with limits on federal liability for HMO’s found guilty of causing injury through improper denials of care.  



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