Stark files universal coverage measure

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), already a high-profile figure in the industry thanks to the self-referral rules bearing his name, has taken a stance on the universal health coverage issue. Stark, who serves as chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, has introduced a bill creating a universal health plan. Under the AmeriCare Health Care Act, all U.S. citizens would be covered either through their employer or Medicare-like government insurance. To extend this coverage, AmeriCare would use Medicare's administrative functions, but would add a a prescription drug benefit, mental health parity, pediatric care, family planning and pregnancy services. The measure would limit out-of-pocket costs, and subsidize costs for people with incomes of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The AmeriCare program would cost $154.5 billion, but would save households, states and local governments more than that, resulting in a net $60.7 billion reduction in overall spending, according to estimates by the Commonwealth Fund.

To learn more about Stark's proposal:
- read this United Press International piece
- read Rep. Stark's press release on the subject