Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So I Guess the HMOs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Round Table, and Over 150 Big Corporations Are Opposed to McCain's Health Plan?

That's the only conclusion I can come to after having read the letter the National Coalition on Benefits has written to the authors of the Wyden-Bennett Healthy Americans Act.

Wyden-Bennett is a comprehensive health care reform proposal that would largely replace the existing employer-based system of health insurance with one based on individual responsibility and individuals purchasing coverage. It has 15 bipartisan Senate co-sponsors and has been scored as revenue neutral by the CBO.

Here's what the coalition letter says:
[Any health care system] change must not erode those parts of the health care system that are working. The core provisions of the Healthy Americans Act would cause large scale disruption in the source, financing, and regulation of the employer-sponsored health coverage that now serves most Americans. This disruption for the majority of Americans who have coverage today through their employer will make it more difficult to achieve our common goal of addressing the needs of the 47 million Americans who lack health insurance coverage entirely.

Moreover, widespread and sudden disruption in employer-sponsored health coverage is likely to harm employer-employee relations because most employees have a longstanding expectation that their employer will be their primary source for health coverage.
I would presume the Coalition is in the process of sending a similar letter over to Senator John McCain since his health care reform proposal would end the tax preference for employer-provided health insurance and replace it with a $2,500 individual, and $5,000 family, tax credit. While McCain would also not outlaw employer-provided health insurance, ending its longstanding tax exclusion and shifting those tax benefits to the individual is clearly designed to give the market a big push in the direction of individual responsibility that McCain favors. I guess that would all qualify as a "widespread and sudden disruption in employer-sponsored coverage."

In fact on the subject of eliminating the tax exclusion for employer-provided health benefits, something the Wyden-Bennett bill and the McCain plan have in common, the coalition had this to say:
The [Wyden-Bennett bill] also ends the income exclusion for employees as it applies today. This directly penalizes employer-sponsored coverage and would cause most employers to cease sponsoring health plans.
Senator Obama, on the other hand, supports reforming the health care system by building on the existing employer-based system. I can also see Senator Obama already preparing TV ads pointing out that corporate America doesn't want anyone "disrupting" the employer-based health insurance system--like McCain would do by ending all of the longstanding tax preferences workers now get for their employer health insurance.

It is surprising that so many of the biggest names in corporate America would pick this time to undercut the core part of the presumptive Republican nominee's health care plan--moving away from third-party pay toward a system of individual responsibility.

Guess they're closet Obama supporters.

A Detailed Analysis of Barack Obama's Health Care Reform Plan

An Detailed Analysis of Senator John McCain's Health Care Reform Plan
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