What's the Best Way to Pay for Americans' Health Care?

First, use the existing health care tax breaks, estimated at $210 billion in 2004, as the basis for a national tax credit system.

Second, roll over the existing government subsidies that are used to offset the costs of uncompensated care (approximately $35 billion) to fund a low-income health care voucher program. Third, fold annual appropriations for the State Children's Health Insurance Program into the voucher/tax credit pool for families, and allow children to enroll in the plans chosen by their parents.

Fourth, states can and should supplement any federal tax credit or voucher assistance with tax credits or subsidies of their own, particularly for poor or low income Americans.

Finally, Congress could appropriate such sums as necessary to supplement the refundable tax credit or health care voucher program.

Debra Ness

President, National Partnership for Women and Families

We need to start paying for health care based on quality and performance, not just the number of services provided. We need a system that rewards the right kind of care at the right time -- especially the kind of preventive and primary care that can keep people healthy.

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