Stark Backs Health Funding

Criticizes Program's Reliance on Individual State Support

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) backed the funding measures of President Clinton's health care proposal last night at a panel discussion held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"[Clinton] has taken, in my mind, the most courageous step: that every American employer must pay something...The President is right on, and ought to be commended for it," Stark said.

But Stark, who chairs the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, criticized the plan for its reliance on support from individual state governments because of their dubious record in providing adequate universal care.

He said Maryland and New Hampshire are the only states that have mandated full coverage, followed by Hawaii with 94 percent coverage.

"But what about the other six percent?" Stark asked. "In California, that's over one million people."


Stark continued to worry about the degree to which state legislators would modify the plan to fit their ideas.

Finalized Plan Far Off

"[California Gov. Pete] Wilson, who measures up with Dracula in supporting social services, won't support this mandate. Oregon won't support this mandate either," Stark said.

Stark also told the audience that they should not expect to see a finalized plan in the near future.

"We'll spend a couple of months shedding light on this plan. We really don't have any details yet," Stark said. "We're going to have more hearings than you can think about [concerning this proposal]. I can't even think about what will happen in the Senate."

Other professors on the panel included Robert J. Blendon from the School of Public Health and Joseph P. Newhouse from the Division of Health Policy Research and Education.

No Major Taxes

Blendon said he believes the public's perception of the package is a favorable one. "Americans are willing to gamble with managed care, but only if the benefits are high and the taxes are low," he said.

Since Clinton plans to fund the proposal by cutting administrative costs, Newhouse explained that the plan does not include any major taxes.

"This is the message of the plan: there is a lot of waste, and we can cut back spending and not lose benefits," Newhouse said.

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