Is Universal Coverage Goal 'Slipping Away?'

"As a key Senate committee prepares today to pass its plan to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, senior Democrats are acknowledging that it may be impossible to provide coverage to all Americans -- a central goal of President Obama and his congressional allies," The Los Angeles Times reports. "That is fueling growing alarm among hospitals and insurance companies, which have made universal coverage a condition of their support."

"The bill that has emerged from the Senate Finance Committee would leave about 17 million people uninsured. But leading Democrats are standing behind the committee's series of compromises that are designed to control the cost of government subsidies for consumers forced to buy insurance" and keep the total cost of the bill below $900 billion. The subsidies provided in the Finance bill are "substantially less" than the subsidies offered in the House bill, which the CBO estimated "would achieve near-universal coverage."

Covering all Americans has been a long-held goal of liberal lawmakers. And "industry leaders and healthcare experts also consider universal coverage as crucial to making other changes to the healthcare system -- such as restraining the cost of premiums and prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for preexisting medical conditions" (Levey, 10/13).

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