• offer a simplified set of flexible medical savings account options to all Americans; • provide a fixed-dollar tax credit option to taxpayers who purchase health insurance; • expand consumer choices that increase market-based accountability by health plans, instead of enacting a patients' bill of rights; and • fundamentally restructure Medicare to expand competitive private health plan choices.
Over the past two years, Congress continued to stumble step by step toward enacting President Clinton's vision of government-controlled health care. Although the president once acknowledged that his original plan to radically remake the American health care system with a single piece of 1,342-page legislation might have been dismissed as “too ambitious,” he also promised to keep accomplishing his goal “a step at a time, until we finish this.”
Since rejecting the comprehensive Clinton plan in 1994, Congress has lacked its own consistent and coherent vision of free-market health care reform. Instead, it has essentially implemented a series of modified versions of the president's downscaled agenda. Those “incremental” health care measures included portability reforms and risk classification limits that expanded federal regulation of private health insurance (1996), federally mandated coverage of mental health and maternity benefits (1996), and a new subsidized insurance program for children (1997).
The 106th Congress moved closer to enacting further regulatory controls and mandates on private health care plans, but it stopped just short of reconciling House and Senate versions of so-called patients' bill of rights