McCain Aims Do Away With Employment-Based Health Insurance

We’ve been so distracted in recent weeks by the nonsensical chatter in this election cycle that has been about everything but the issues. You know, it’s the constant stream of debating the lipstick, who’s a celebrity politician and the chant to “Drill, baby, drill” because the right wing has some wild fantasy that off shore drilling will solve our oil woes. It’s time to start paying attention to the issues, especially the McCain-Palin plan for health care insurance.

As a small business owner, it’s been a few years since I had health care insurance and ensuring that all Americans get health care insurance, is important to me because of that. I believe like most Democrats that health care insurance should be a right not an option. It’s basic common sense in my opinion.

Bob Herbert writes today in the NY Times that the McCain-Palin plan will bring radical “changes that will set in motion nothing less than the dismantling of the employer-based coverage that protects most American families.”

A study coming out Tuesday from scholars at Columbia, Harvard, Purdue and Michigan projects that 20 million Americans who have employment-based health insurance would lose it under the McCain plan.

There is nothing secret about Senator McCain’s far-reaching proposals, but they haven’t gotten much attention because the chatter in this campaign has mostly been about nonsense — lipstick, celebrities and “Drill, baby, drill!”

For starters, the McCain health plan would treat employer-paid health benefits as income that employees would have to pay taxes on.

“It means your employer is going to have to make an estimate on how much the employer is paying for health insurance on your behalf, and you are going to have to pay taxes on that money,” said Sherry Glied, an economist who chairs the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

What the? Taxing our health care benefits? Yep, that is part of McCain’s plan:

According to the study: “The McCain plan will force millions of Americans into the weakest segment of the private insurance system — the nongroup market — where cost-sharing is high, covered services are limited and people will lose access to benefits they have now.”

The net effect of the plan, the study said, “almost certainly will be to increase family costs for medical care.”

Under the McCain plan (now the McCain-Palin plan) employees who continue to receive employer-paid health benefits would look at their pay stubs each week or each month and find that additional money had been withheld to cover the taxes on the value of their benefits.

While there might be less money in the paycheck, that would not be anything to worry about, according to Senator McCain. That’s because the government would be offering all taxpayers a refundable tax credit — $2,500 for a single worker and $5,000 per family — to be used “to help pay for your health care.”

The big idea behind McCain’s plan “is to get families out of employer-paid health coverage and into the health insurance marketplace, where naked competition is supposed to take care of all ills,” but we’re getting a taste right now of how “naked competition” is working watching the fiascos with “Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.”

McCain’s whole plan reeks of a shot of “poison” into the already screwed up health care system. We’re all doomed with McCain’s health care insurance plan that “is right out of the right-wing Republicans’ ideological playbook: fewer regulations; let the market decide; and send unsophisticated consumers into the crucible alone.”

It’s time to start paying attention to the issues, because as we all know, the right wing wants to distract voters from the issues and turn yet another election into some bizarre personality contest.

[Originally published at]

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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3 Responses to McCain Aims Do Away With Employment-Based Health Insurance

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    Does a sixteen year old working at McDonalds and covered by the parents still get the $2,500. Does a young couple starting a business have the choice of putting their $5,000 into their business instead of buying insurance? Does a company with 10 employees still have any incentive to provide insurance coverage now that the owner has an extra $5,000 to pay for his own cverage, and given that one part of the plan (I believe) is to take away deductibility of insurance as a business expense?

  2. Darrell

    Are you going all rhetorical on us? 😉

  3. While I am thoroughly convinced that employment based health care was an unfortunate accident and ultimately the wrong answer, deceptively taxing hard working Americans in order to achieve this end hardly seems to be the just approach to take.  Is this the “straight talk” John McCain is known for?