3 Ex-Presidents Join Call for National Health Care

From Associated Press

A commission including three former Presidents today proposed a national health care system that would ensure access to basic medical services for all Americans with financing by all but the poorest.

The system is designed to extend health care to the estimated 37 million Americans who are uninsured, to curtail soaring health costs and to improve the quality of medical care nationwide, said the National Leadership Commission on Health Care.

The proposed “strategy of providing access by asking every American to take responsibility for his or her own care and to assume a very small share of the cost of those who cannot assume that responsibility is eminently fair,” the commission said in its report.

Without change in the nation’s health care system, costs are expected to grow from the current $550 billion a year to $1.5 trillion by the year 2000, said Paul G. Rogers, a former Democratic congressman from Florida who co-chaired the commission with former Iowa Gov. Robert D. Ray, a Republican.


The commission, supported by 38 corporations, unions and foundations, spent 2 1/2 years preparing the report. Three former Presidents--Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter--served as honorary co-chairmen.

Role for Private Insurance

The proposed system would continue a major role for private insurance coverage and would encourage employers to extend such coverage to more employees.

All Americans would be covered by a basic package of medical services, which would be the minimum coverage for all private health insurance plans and for a publicly funded benefits pool.

Many workers would continue to get privately financed coverage as an employment benefit, with the employer paying most or all of the premium, and they could add to that coverage if they wanted. Also the federal Medicare insurance program for older and disabled Americans would continue.

Everyone else would be covered by the pool called the Universal Access program. Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor, would be abolished and its recipients would be covered by the new program.

The Universal Access program would be financed by all employers and by all individuals not covered by Medicare who have incomes above 150% of the poverty level.