Liberal Group Blasts McCain's Health Plan
July 7, 2008 - 7:33 PM
However, a health care expert told Cybercast News Service that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) plan will cover between 5-10 million more people but outweighs the cost of McCain's by a large margin per year - $65 billion in taxes compared to $10 billion.
"Getting everybody into the health care system is the first step to achieving universal coverage," said Peter Harbage, a healthcare advisor to former presidential candidate John Edwards, who was a stand-in on the panel for Elizabeth Edwards. "McCain has flat out said the first step is not achieving universal coverage."
While none of the panels critiqued Obama's health care policy during the discussion, Harbage told Cybercast News Service that Obama thinks insurance is fundamentally a group program and McCain is moving in the exact opposite direction towards more individualized coverage.
"He (McCain) has said that individual choice is the way to go - that the individual somehow is supposed to take on big insurance companies by themselves," said Harbage.
In a group system, like the one Obama is proposing, taxpayers pay into a system so health care is available whenever they need it. In addition, employers are required by law to provide health insurance for their employees. With McCain's plan, taxpayers are responsible for their own health care costs when they need the care and they will be provided with a $5,000 tax credit.
"Instead of sending people off on their own with a little tax credit to go find an insurance company who is willing to take them, he (Obama) is talking about putting people into large groups - so whether it is through expanding eligibility for the Medicaid program or what would benefit a lot of people is his idea for a national insurance exchange," said Karen Davenport, director of health policy at the CAP Action Fund.
"Obama is looking at how do we get group coverage, which is going to be more stable and have better benefits than anything that Senator McCain is offering," she said.
Michael Tanner, a health care policy expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, said McCain's plan for giving taxpayers a tax credit is often misunderstood.
"When he suggests that he is going to provide a $5,000 tax credit to you for the purchase of health insurance, he's not talking about you using that $5,000 to purchase health insurance," he said.
"What he is suggesting is that under the current tax code, if your employer, who spends on average about $8,800 on you for health care, were to give you that $8,800, you would pay taxes on that $8800," Tanner said.
"The tax credit McCain wants to give you is to offset those higher taxes. It's the money that your employer gives you that you are supposed to buy insurance with and it's the tax credit that protects you against getting hit with higher taxes," Tanner added.
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