McCain Criticized For His Health Care Plan

I’ve been surprised that Obama has not done more to criticize McCain on his health plan. Not only does McCain’s plan fail to help those who are uninsured or underinsured, but it will also increase health care costs for those who currently have insurance coverage. One group, Health Care for America Now, is taking action. The Politco reports:

A progressive group pushing for health-care reform – Health Care for America Now – took a swing at Republican presidential nominee John McCain Monday, telling him to “stop lying about” Democratic rival Barack Obama’s health-care plan.

The group took issue with McCain’s characterization last week that Obama’s plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.”

“Sen. Obama’s heath care plan offers the American people and American business a choice. His plan allows individuals to stay with the private insurance they have now, choose a new health care plan similar to the one Congress has or opt into a new public plan so we are no longer left at the mercy of the private insurance industry,” the group’s national campaign manager, Richard Kirsch, said in a statement.

“His plan includes lowering health care costs for small business and allowing employers to offer health insurance by paying for it as a percentage of their payroll rather than continue to feed into the current system where premiums are completely disconnected from what a business can afford.”

Kirsch also knocked McCain’s plan saying, “McCain’s health care plan, which proposes taxing your health-care benefits at work and eliminating what little regulation already exists by allowing people to purchase across state lines, will raise costs and lower consumer protections.”

Jason Rosenbaum presents several reports on the actual differences between the health care plans of Obama and McCain, as opposed to the lies being spread by the Republicans:

McClatchy:

Obama’s proposed universal health-care plan embodies the long-held Democratic Party goal of covering the 47 million Americans who lack health insurance. Employers, insurers, individuals and the government all would have greater roles in assuring coverage through a number of proposals designed to close gaps in the system.”It builds on the existing system and recognizes that we’re not starting from scratch,” said M. Gregg Bloche, health care adviser for Obama. “One can’t impose sudden radical change on the system from the top down. There are real limitations to what can be accomplished centrally with respect to health care.”

McCain’s plan takes a different approach. It follows Republican orthodoxy of trying to make the private-insurance marketplace more affordable and competitive by radically altering the tax treatment of health-care benefits.

For years employers have been able to exclude the cost of health benefits from their employees’ taxable incomes, but self-employed workers and those who buy private coverage don’t have the same tax benefit. To level the playing field, McCain no longer would exempt employees’ health benefits from income taxes. Instead, he’d provide refundable tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to help purchase private insurance.

New York Times:

Though Senator John McCain has promised to not raise taxes, his campaign acknowledged Wednesday that the health plan he outlined this week would have the effect of increasing tax payments for some workers, primarily those with high incomes and expensive health plans.

Time’s Joe Klein:

Today’s issue: health insurance. John McCain wants to tax your employer-provided health care benefits. He wants to replace those benefits with an insufficient tax credit–$2500 for individuals and $5000 for families (the average cost per family for health insurance is $12000).

There is a positive, progressive tax aspect to this: wealthier people should have to pay for health insurance themselves, without tax breaks from the federal government.

But make no mistake: this plan will do little or nothing for those who do not have insurance now–unless they are young and healthy–and it may well hurt a fair number of workers, especially unionized workers, who get gold-plated benefits from their employers.

The media has also called out John McCain’s outright lies about Obama’s health care plan:

Disputed characterizations are not uncommon on the trail. At a campaign stop this week in Missouri, Mr. McCain said that Mr. Obama’s plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.”Jonathan B. Oberlander, who teaches health policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that Mr. Obama’s plan would not force families into a government-run system. “I would say this is an inaccurate and false characterization of the Obama plan,” he said. “I don’t use those words lightly.”

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