Evaluating Proposals to Expand Health Insurance: Find the Right Balance

June 14, 2004

After passing a Medicare drug benefit in 2003, a number of key lawmakers have turned their sights to expanding health insurance coverage, to reduce the 43 million Americans who remain uninsured. Proposals to expand coverage vary widely, including tax credits and limited public coverage expansions.

What are some of the key proposals? What goals are the proposals trying to achieve? What are the trade-offs involved between increased coverage and increased costs? Is it best to focus on the number of people covered, or other goals, such as increased affordability, tax equity, or care for individuals with more severe or chronic health conditions?

To help examine these questions and others, the Alliance for Health Reform sponsored a June 14 briefing with support from The Kaiser Family Foundation and The Heritage Foundation. Two panels of experts offered insights: Panel 1 included: Jonathan Gruber of MIT, Stuart Butler of The Heritage Foundation; and Jack Meyer of the Economic and Social Research Institute. Panel 2, immediately following, included Jeanne Lambrew of George Washington University; Jeffrey Lemieux of the Centrist Policy Network; and Gail Wilensky of Project HOPE. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated, and Diane Rowland of Kaiser made introductory remarks.

Event Resources