The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), a trade group representing investor-owned hospitals, has dipped its oar into the growing universal health debate with a proposal of its own. The FAH plan, dubbed "Health Coverage Passport," calls for a federal law requiring all Americans to have health coverage of some kind. Under the proposed rules, individuals would have to take employer-sponsored coverage where available, buy coverage on their own, or if eligible, take advantage of government health plans. Right now, hospital execs say, they're carrying the burden of the medically indigent themselves. "We, in essence, have become insurers of the uninsured," said Victor L. Campbell, FAH's chairman and a senior vice president of HCA.
To work, the plan would require several levels of health insurance subsidies or increased spending. For example, the FAH proposal would require expanding existing Medicaid and state children's health insurance, subsidizing the cost of employer health coverage where employees can't afford the coverage, and helping individuals afford coverage. But it could be expensive. The plan, which the FAH estimates would reach 98 percent of all Americans, would add an additional $115.2 billion in spending to the existing $900 billion that state and federal agencies already spend on healthcare. To date, FAH hasn't suggested how governments will pay for the extra expense.