Sunday, October 5, 2008

McCain-Palin Campaign Conference Call On Barack Obama's Health Care Lies

Barack Obama says that Washington is broken, but he's running his health care system through it. It doesn't make sense." -- Doug Holtz-Eakin, Senior Policy Adviser

Today (10/4/08), the McCain-Palin campaign held a press conference call with Doug Holtz-Eakin, McCain-Palin senior policy adviser, to discuss Barack Obama's lies concerning John McCain's proposed health care reforms:

Doug Holtz-Eakin: "At the moment, the Obama campaign has several ads up on radio and television attacking the McCain health plan and quite frankly these ads can only be described as cynical and deceitful. Despite the fact that Barack Obama has not shown the judgment to choose well in other policy areas, on this one it cannot possibly be a lack of knowledge or judgment. His adviser, Jason Furman, advocated for what is essentially the McCain health tax reform in the journal Democracy, in the summer of 2006, and so he could easily be informed as to how wrong these ads are. So it cannot be a lack of knowledge. It has to be a lack of honor.

"They are saying several things about the McCain tax plan that are just flat out wrong. The first thing was Senator Obama himself, in the first debate, said that John McCain would tax employers on the insurance they provide their employees, that is false. Nothing changes for the employer under the McCain healthcare reform. Nothing. They have the same incentives to provide health care insurance. They can still deduct all compensation cost, health insurance, wages, and others. They still want to attract high quality employees and providing a rich benefits package, pensions, health insurance, is a way to do that. Their incentives will be unchanged.

"They are saying that it is a big tax increase, and that, my friends, is also false. This is a plan where if you are receiving from your employer the health insurance that Barack Obama has decided that every American should have, whether they decide that or not, Barack Obama has decided everybody should have health insurance like a Congressman. That would be a $12,000 family plan. If you are receiving that from your employer you will have more money for healthcare left over after this tax reform than you do right now. If you are in the very bottom tax bracket, the 10% bracket, a $12,000 health insurance plan would yield a tax liability of $1,200. A $5,000 family refundable credit would more than offset that tax liability, leaving you with $3,800 to put in a HSA. If you are fortunate enough to be in that top bracket, the liability would be $4,200, more than offset by the $5,000 credit, $800 in your HSA. Now, it is the case that there may be some people at the very top who have a liability greater than their health tax credit. Now, under the current system as a result, the one that Barack Obama wants to defend which is attacking John McCain's system, we are having the middle class pay taxes and subsidize the gold plated coverage of the most affluent in America. And it perplexes me, even given his flexible policy principles, how he could walk around saying the things he says about the middle class and defend the status quo which rewards to greatest subsidy to the most affluent of Americans.

"He's called this a middle class tax increase. As I've pointed out, you've had to be getting an enormous amount of health insurance, one the middle class can only dream of, in order to have a net tax liability. For some Americans, they are actually paying out-of-pocket and getting no help whatsoever. This would give them the same help, $2,500 for an individual, $5,000 for a family, that those receiving from an employer get. Simple matter of fairness. And, there are many Americans who are uninsured, 47 million, roughly. This would give them money toward a health insurance policy, and it basically is nearly the cost, in the individual market, for a family policy of an individual policy, nationwide.

"Now, they're also saying that John McCain's health care plan would mean they never saw the money -- it would go straight to insurance companies. Well, that's just a ridiculous charge. Individuals control the insurance they choose under the John McCain plan. They decide the insurance company. It's essentially the same, I think, as the Associated Press pointed out, it's like saying money for a car loan will go straight to the car dealer. This is money in control of the individuals -- in control of families. John McCain trusts the judgment of the American people. He's willing to put the money in their hands because they know what's best. They can then shop, across state lines as the Senator has pointed out, to find a policy that fits their family's needs and, by producing greater competition among the 12,000-odd insurers, nationwide, generates some genuine policies at a reasonable cost, and a high quality of service, holding some insurance company's feet to the fire -- have them work for the American people, not the other way around.

"Senator Obama has leveled two charges on that particular approach: Number one, that that the most vulnerable -- those with previous conditions or high costs will be left exposed. He knows that's false. John McCain has proposed a Guaranteed Access Plan at every state in this country. It would provide federal and state assistance to make sure that individuals could buy a policy, at no more than 150% of the comparable policy in that state. Any denial would be immediately referred to a board which would adjudicate whether it was acceptable or not, and if it was not, that company, that had denied the claim, would be fined. He's going to take care of the most vulnerable population.

"He's also made the assertion that John McCain wants to deregulate health care like you would want to deregulate banking. This is the situation where it's the equivalent of having a consumer deregulation of banking to allow you to get off a plane and get money out of the ATM, in any state in the country. That's the kind of deregulation that allowed Americans to travel and not have to open a bank account in every state. They should equally be able to get a financial service for their health insurance across state lines.

"They also suggest that, somehow, that there will be no consumer protections. That's an insult to the 50 state insurance commissioners that are working very hard to ensure that in those states, insurance policies are well documented, that there is suitable coverage, there is safety and soundness regulations for every company that's headquartered in the state. None of that goes away under the John McCain plan. There's also the assertion that somehow the John McCain plan is going to shred employer coverage. The McCain plan is meant to build on the foundation of employer coverage which is the largest source of health insurance in the United States. There is no incentive for a young, healthy worker to walk out of an employer plan as the assertion goes. Suppose you're a 25-year old who has got about $5,000 in health insurance from your company. Under the McCain plan you're in the bottom bracket, you'll have a $500 tax liability, a $2500 c redit, a $2000 net addition to your HSA. Why would you trade that $5,000 policy with nothing out of your pocket for an inferior $2,500 policy bought in the individual market? No individual is going to walk out. Even someone in the 25% bracket comes out $1250 ahead. The assertions don't match the numbers in the McCain plan. It's simply an attempt to scare individuals.

"The McCain plan does stand in stark contrast to Barack Obama's plan. Obama has said that he would prefer to have a single payer system if that's where the United States had started and he is certainly making a strong push for much more centralized, government run health insurance. He has a mandate that parents must cover their children. Parents want to cover their children but they can't afford to. He will have to enforce this mandate somehow -- presumably with a fine -- for a mandate on parents who are unable to cover their children. It's a play-or-pay mandate on employers. Employers are going to take one look at that mandate, cover the $12,000 for workers or pay a fine, and they'll pay a fine. Where will those individuals end up? Well, either uninsured or in the new government-run insurance plan that Barack Obama is proposing. At a time when Medicare is already broken, he is going to have a new government insurance progr am for Americans, and it'll be run through a large new health bureaucracy, the Health Exchange, which all leads you to have mandates on employers, mandates on kids, a big push for new bureaucracies and new government programs. It's been estimated that his program will cost $240 billion a year. Now, that's not a way to improve prior coverage. That's not a way to improve the functioning of health insurance markets. That's enlarging government bureaucracies. That's like having your health insurance run by the DMV. Barack Obama says that Washington is broken, but he's running his health care system through it. It doesn't make sense. So it's time to set the record straight. John McCain's health care plan should be presented to the American people. They should compare it to Barack Obama's plan and make their choice. We trust the people that if they're given the fair information they'll make the right choice."

Listen To The Conference Call
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