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AMA: Doctors Devise Radical Plan to Give the Uninsured Health Coverage


CHICAGO - The American Medical Association has crafted a radical proposed solution to the problem of Americans with no health insurance coverage.

CHICAGO, June 14 - The American Medical Association has crafted a radical proposed solution to the problem of Americans with no health insurance coverage.

The doctors' group would have Congress enact laws that require uninsured individuals earning 500% of the federal poverty level to "obtain, at a minimum, coverage for catastrophic health care and evidence-based preventive health care."

For those earning less than 500% of the federal poverty level, the AMA wants the government to offer advanced tax credits or vouchers earmarked for the purchase of health care coverage.

Just how those who refuse to comply would be penalized was not entirely clear. The AMA plan suggested "substantial tax penalties" for those who opt out of the plan. Later that was softened to the use of "the tax structure to achieve compliance." This means that people who don't buy the insurance will pay higher taxes, interpreted Ardis Hoven, M.D., of Lexington, Ky., a member of the AMA's Board of Trustees.

It is not unusual for the AMA to adopt elaborate approaches to health-care reform, but this new policy seemed to mark a high-water point in arcane sophistication.

It was also the first time in more than a decade that the AMA has backed a plan that calls for mandated rather than voluntary health-insurance coverage. For at least a decade, the AMA has opposed health insurance by employers.

The AMA estimated that about 11% of the uninsured in America, or roughly five million people, are earning more than 500% of the poverty level and would be required to opt into a health care plan under this proposal.

With the exception of Alaska and Hawaii the federal poverty level for an individual was ,800 in 2006 and for a family of four it was ,000. In Alaska the poverty threshold is ,250 for an individual and ,000 for a family of four. In Hawaii the amounts are ,270 and ,000, respectively

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