news feature
October 24, 2008




Report states health care coverage declines under McCain’s plan
by Bruce Rodgers

The Kansas coalition of Health Care for America released a report on Oct. 20 criticizing presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s health care proposal. The report is part of the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) nationwide campaign to highlight the need for quality and affordable health care for “everyone In America.” HCAN is a coalition of labor unions, women’s groups and advocacy organizations.

The report, from the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), analyzed the effects of McCain’s proposal to tax health care insurance benefits, which are now not taxed. In an analysis by Josh Bevins and Elise Gould, the authors concluded that an average “214,181 people in Kansas would lose employer-sponsored health coverage.” In Missouri, the figure was 406,150. The EPI estimates that as many as 20 million nationwide would lose their coverage.

Kansas Sen. David Haley from the 4th District, which includes Kansas City, KS, held a press conference to announce the report and stated in a press release, “John McCain’s health care plan would be devastating to the average American. At least one in 13 people would lose his/her employer-sponsored health care insurance benefits and be forced out into the private insurance market where premiums are more expensive and coverage is less comprehensive.”

Haley added that people with pre-existing conditions would likely not be able to get coverage. “This isn’t a plan that benefits us,” stated Haley. “It’s a plan that benefits the insurance industry.”

The report concludes “that McCain’s health care plan would accelerate the deterioration of employer-sponsored benefits by both removing current tax incentives and, at the same time, taxing employee benefits as if they were salary.”

The McCain website calls such analysis “fiction.” In a statement on the website, the McCain campaign charges that such criticism “only focuses on the fact that the value of the employer provided insurance will now show up as additional income for the employees — what he (Barack Obama) fails to mention — is that John McCain’s generous refundable tax credit ($5,000 for families and $2,500 for individuals) will not only shield millions of families from a tax increase but will actually give them MORE dollars to invest in their health care needs.”

The EPI report also charged that consumer protection would be stripped away in McCain’s plan, which would allow insurers to sell across state lines with possibly less regulation from individual states. McCain’s campaign states that such portability would “improve the quality of health care,” presumably through competition in the marketplace.

Haley, who was an early support of Obama for president, is a ranking Democrat on the Health Care Strategies Committee and a member of the Joint Committee on Health Policy Oversight in the Kansas Legislature.

“Access to health care and the ability to pay should be afforded to everyone regardless of income,” Haley said in an interview. “I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all but no one should be denied coverage.”

Though Haley doesn’t go as far as agreeing that health care coverage is a right, believing there should be some contribution from the individual; he added that he now consider it “more a privilege” under the current system.

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Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at


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