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 Home > News & Policies > May 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 25, 2004

Fact Sheet: Expanding Access to Health Care for Millions of Americans

Today's Presidential Action

Today, the President visited Youngstown, Ohio to discuss his agenda for expanding access to health care for low-income Americans by supporting Community Health Centers.

The President's budgets are on track to fulfill his promise to open or expand 1,200 Community Health Centers to serve an additional 6.1 million Americans by 2006. The President's budget for FY 2005 continues to fulfill this promise with a request of $1.8 billion for Community Health Centers -- a 57% increase since 2001 -- enabling the program to serve an additional 1.6 million individuals and open or expand over 330 more health centers.

Community Health Centers: Meeting the Health Care Needs of the Uninsured and Underserved

  • Community Health Centers provide critical primary and preventive health care services to individuals regardless of their ability to pay. These health centers are located in medically underserved urban and rural areas where there is little access to basic health care services, and primarily serve low-income individuals, migrant farm workers, homeless individuals, and children. Achieving the President's goal for new and expanded Community Health Center sites will help to provide health care to a greater number of Americans.
  • Since 2001, the Bush Administration has increased the number of people served in health centers by almost 30%. When the President took office, there were approximately 3,300 health center sites serving approximately 9.6 million patients, including 4 million uninsured individuals. President Bush recognized the needs of the uninsured and medically underserved communities and promised to open or expand 1,200 health center sites to serve an additional 6.1 million Americans by 2006.
    • By the end of March 2004, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will have opened or expanded 614 health center sites.
    • The FY 2005 budget proposes an increase of $218 million, to open or expand 330 more health center sites to serve an additional 1.6 million people, leaving approximately 260 more community health center sites to add or expand to meet the President's goal by 2006.
  • Community Health Centers are an important part of the President's agenda to make America's world-leading health care more accessible, and more affordable. It also includes:
    • Association Health Plans - AHPs will give America's working families greater access to affordable health insurance. By allowing small businesses to band together and negotiate on behalf of their employees and their families, AHPs would help small businesses and employees obtain health insurance at an affordable price, much like large employers.
    • Health Savings Accounts -- HSAs are improving the way Americans get help with out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Medicare bill President Bush signed into law establishes new tax-free savings accounts for individuals and groups who purchase low-premium, high-deductible health plans. The President has also proposed to allow these individuals who establish these HSAs to deduct the premiums they pay for their low-premium, high-deductible health insurance policies. This new deduction would be available to taxpayers whether or not they itemize.
    • Tax Credits - The President has proposed to establish refundable tax credits of up to $1,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families to help low-income workers buy health insurance coverage.
    • Medical Liability Reform - President Bush believes common-sense reforms to medical liability law will increase access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans, while reducing frivolous and time-consuming legal proceedings against doctors and health care providers that are driving good providers out of local communities across the country and raising health care costs for all.

The President's Health Care Accomplishments

  • All seniors will be guaranteed access to affordable prescription drug coverage under Medicare. In December 2003, President Bush signed into law legislation that will make Medicare prescription drug coverage available to 40 million seniors and people with disabilities. The new benefit will become available on January 1, 2006. Beginning in June 2004, beneficiaries will have access to Medicare-approved prescription drug discount cards, which will save them 15% - 30% off the retail price of most brand name drugs, with even deeper discounts on generic drugs. Low-income beneficiaries also will receive $600 this next year to help them purchase their medicines.
  • All seniors will have more choices and better benefits under a strengthened and improved Medicare program. In addition to helping seniors afford their prescriptions, the legislation the President signed enhances basic Medicare coverage by providing better preventive care. Beginning in 2006, seniors also will get the same kinds of choices that Members of Congress and Federal employees have to select the coverage that is best for them, including the choice of keeping their Medicare coverage just the way it is.
  • All Americans will benefit from lower prescription drug prices. The President has implemented a new rule to strengthen competition between generic and brand-name drugs, which is expected to save American consumers more than $35 billion in drug costs over the next 10 years. The Medicare legislation that he signed into law last December includes generic drug provisions that will further benefit consumers.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will improve the way Americans get help with out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Medicare bill President Bush signed into law establishes new tax-free savings accounts for individuals and groups who purchase low-premium, high-deductible health plans. These tax-free, portable accounts will help families pay routine medical expenses and provide a tax-preferred means of saving for future health care needs.
  • Millions of low-income Americans have been made eligible for health care coverage. From January 2001 through December 2003, HHS approved waivers and state plan amendments that will make an additional 2.6 million low-income children and adults eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP when fully implemented.
  • Federal funding of state high-risk pools, which provide safety net health insurance to individuals with serious medical conditions, will make coverage more affordable. High-risk pools in 30 states make coverage available and more affordable to these individuals. In December 2002, President Bush signed into law legislation that will make $100 million available to states to establish and support high-risk pools.
  • Doubling the budget of the National Institutes of Health will lead to better health care for all Americans. President Bush fulfilled another commitment by completing the historic doubling of the NIH budget by 2003. He also dramatically increased medical research to $28.6 billion in his FY 2005 budget to speed cures and treatments for the diseases that plague our Nation and the world.
  • Increased funding for biodefense preparedness is strengthening our homeland security and improving public health surveillance. The President has provided over $4.4 billion to states, local governments, and hospitals for preparedness against a bioterrorist attack.