John McCain has offered a health care plan as part of his platform.
Employer provided health insurance would be taxed as income, and then the taxpayer would receive a tax credit when they file their 1040s — $2,500 for the individual, $5,000 for a family. For workers who can’t get health insurance through their job, or for those who can’t get health insurance period, under McCain’s plan they can pay for it out of pocket, and then come tax time they get some portion of that back, to the level of the tax credits. Says the Wall Street Journal:
This would allow people to buy health coverage on the open market, where they may have more choices and might look for a better bargain.
In exchange, the government would begin taxing the value of health benefits people get through work. If an employer spends $10,000 to buy a worker health insurance, the worker would pay taxes on that money.
In the Vice Presidential debate, Alaska governor Sarah Palin said that this was revenue neutral to the federal government. You pay more taxes through withholding, because your income, as far as the federal government is concerned, has gone up by the value of your health care benefits. And then you get it back as a tax credit in April.
Barack Obama, speaking at a rally in Asheville, North Carolina yesterday, called this a “shell game.” It’s moving money around, but it doesn’t fix the fundamental problem of the uninsured. If someone is uninsured now, it’s likely as not because they can’t afford it. Under McCain’s plan, this doesn’t make health insurance more affordable in the short term, and getting a larger tax refund, due to the tax credit, doesn’t help people pay for health insurance on a monthly basis. And some employers may end up dropping health insurance for their employees under McCain’s plan, as they would be under no obligation to offer insurance if, under the McCain plan, employees could buy it on the open market. All McCain’s plan does is give more money over the insurance companies and the drug companies, but doesn’t help with the ability of Americans to get the health care they need.
Finally, there’s one part of McCain’s plan that has gone unnoticed.
He’s also going to slash Medicare and Medicaid funding: “John McCain would pay for his health plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid.”
McCain’s plan, it turns out, is not revenue neutral. It would end up costing the federal goverment 1.3 trillion dollars over the next decade.
So, not only does it not make health care more affordable, not only does it not reduce the ranks of the uninsured, but this plan reduces health care access for the elderly by making it more expensive and it adds 1.3 trillion dollars to an already swollen national debt.
This is John McCain’s plan.
If you’re uninsured, you cannot in good conscience vote for John McCain. Because he won’t help you.
If you’re working, you cannot in good conscience vote for John McCain. Because either you’ll see a massive increase in your tax withholding at work, or your employer will drop your health coverage altogether.
If you’r elderly, you cannot in good conscience vote for John McCain. Because he is going to make your health care vastly more expensive.
There is a health care crisis in this country. Maybe you don’t care about the uninsured and the elderly. Maybe the rising costs don’t affect you because you have an awesome health care plan through work.
There’s no way around this. If your health care matters to you, if your access to health care matters to you, John McCain’s health care plan will harm you. It will hurt you in the pocket book immediately, and that will decrease your ability to get the health care you need when you need it.
That’s what matters. John McCain’s plan affects you.
ETA: Paul Krugman of the New York Times weighs in with a more detailed analysis. His conclusion? “[The] McCain plan would do for health care what deregulation has done for banking. And Im terrified.”