Is John McCain's health care plan fair and equitable, or a handout to insurance companies? With the election now just a month away, the presidential campaigns have been trading shots over their health care proposals. In Wisconsin on Monday, former Republican governor, Tommy Thompson, and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin, made the arguments for their respective candidates.
McCain would tax employer-provided health benefits as salary for the first time, in order to provide individuals with a $2500 tax credit for health insurance. Families would receive $5000. "In many cases . . . the individual and families may end up paying more in taxes than they'd get by way of benefits from this plan," said Baldwin during a conference call with reporters. Baldwin and other critics of the McCain proposal have claimed that it will have the result of forcing many employers to stop offering health care coverage to their workers. "While some of these people will be able to secure alternative insurance in the individual market, the remainder will join the ranks of the uninsured," she said. "In other words, the McCain plan has the potential to make things worse for the uninsured."
"It's really a matter of tax fairness, and tax equity," said Thompson. "And it also is a way for poor people, and people that are uninsured and under insured, to be able to purchase insurance, and still allow the employer to deduct the amount that they pay in."
The former Wisconsin governor and Bush administration Health and Human Services Secretary,assigned letter grades to the health care plans from Obama (F) and McCain (A). McCain's plan, said Thompson, does a better job of holding costs down, and "treats everybody alike . . . and gives everybody a chance to have either a tax deduction or a tax credit. I believe that's only fair."
"That tax credit doesn't go to individual taxpayers to make choices about their health care," said Baldwin. "It goes right to the insurance companies. This is a huge subsidy for the insurance industry, which is doing very well without additional subsidies."