Statement: Bush’s Budget Further Damages U.S. Health Care System

Statement by Karen Davenport and Meredith King, health policy director and health policy analyst for the Center for American Progress

Washington, D.C. – In his 2009 federal budget proposal, President Bush once again offered dangerous policy prescriptions that would further damage our broken health care system. This budget, if enacted, would undermine critical public health insurance programs by cutting Medicare by $178 billion over the next five years, largely by reducing support to hospitals that serve needy communities and cutting Medicaid by $17 billion over five years. Additionally, this budget destabilizes employer-sponsored health insurance.

The Bush budget features disruptive changes to the private health insurance market, including changes to the deductibility of employer-provided health insurance provided by employers. This change would weaken the employer-based health coverage system and leave millions without coverage. His additional proposals promote risky association health plans as an alternative way to purchase coverage and expanded use of health savings accounts, which saddle enrollees with higher out-of-pocket responsibilities.

These approaches, which are consistent with proposals advanced by leading conservative presidential candidates, will merely serve to undermine the nation’s existing public and private coverage options, without touching the rising costs of health care and the increasing number of uninsured Americans.