Presidential Prescriptions: Diagnosing the Candidates’ Health Reforms

Presidential Prescriptions: Diagnosing the Candidates’ Health Reforms

Senator McCain proposes positive change, Senator Obama prefers business as usual—only more of it

The Pacific Research Institute (PRI) released a voters’ guide to the health policies proposed by presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama.

Presidential Prescriptions: Diagnosing the Candidates’ Health Reforms concludes that Senator McCain’s promise to give tax dollars back to American families, which they can use to buy health care of their choice, is critical to reducing costs and improving quality. It is a radical change to the unfair treatment that we suffer today. Currently, only corporations enjoy tax breaks when they buy health insurance for their employees, and top executives benefit more than ordinary employees. Under McCain’s proposal, the money that corporations spend on health benefits will go to workers instead.

Senator Obama’s plan relies on more government control and spending, financed by new, job-killing taxes. It will continue to drag the country down the path of fragmented, dysfunctional, bureaucratic health care that the nation has been traveling for four decades. This approach has resulted in almost half of our health care dollars being controlled by government bureaucracies and a system that is unresponsive to patients’ needs, in many ways.

Two Competing Visions

Senator John McCain:

His tax reform will result in a raise of about $9,000 for every working American family.
While this raise will be taxable, it will be supplemented by a universal, refundable tax credit of $5,000 per family or $2,500 per single person that will eliminate the “job lock” caused by employer-based health benefits, and significantly reduce the Medicaid poverty trap that holds back many Americans.
Combined with his plan to allow a national market in health insurance, these reforms will result in about six million currently uninsured Americans buying health insurance voluntarily, within an estimated range of two to 12 million.
If people choose not to buy health insurance, their unused tax credits can go into a fund that states use to finance their uncompensated care and “safety nets.”
Senator McCain has made a commitment to protect people with pre-existing conditions during the transition, so they retain coverage as Americans find new ways to organize themselves to share the financial risks of health care.

Senator Barack Obama:

His health insurance “reforms,” namely guaranteed issue and community rating, will cause about one million people to lose their individually purchased health insurance over the short term;
His new, job-killing taxes on businesses will hurt lower-income workers especially.
He will spend an extra $100 billion a year of our health dollars on health goods and services that serve the government’s priorities, not a family’s needs.
Combined, these three reforms are likely to lead to a “death spiral” for privately chosen health insurance.
His medical-malpractice insurance “reform” threatens to make it impossible for physicians to pay for liability insurance, threatening patients’ access to care and legal rights.

“When many Americans have lost faith in both Washington and Wall Street, it is encouraging that Senator McCain intends to take health care dollars away from Big Business and Big Government and give them to the families who need them. Senator Obama’s plan will deepen the problems of the current system – leaving you one paycheck away from losing both your job and your health care, and more likely to become dependent on the state when that happens,” said Mr. Graham.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.