Monday, June 16, 2008

Down to the Issues: Health Care

The presidential candidates' main disagreements on health care revolve around conservative ideals of small government and liberal ideals of state assistance to the entirety of the population. The current system would change the least under a Republican administration; they generally prefer tax breaks to help people afford insurance. Changes would be administered on a state-to-state basis. Most Democrats would make more drastic changes to the current system, expanding coverage and driving down costs by regulating the health insurance market.

On May 29, 2007, in Iowa, Barack Obama stated that, “We now face an opportunity — and an obligation — to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday's health care debates… My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.” On his website, Obama characterizes his health care package as one similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan that members of Congress have. People will be offered affordable premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, as well as income-related federal subsidies to those individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance. Furthermore, the Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. On his website, Obama also requires that insurers issue every applicant a policy, and employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll towards the costs of a national plan. Moreover, the Obama plan calls for mandatory coverage for children; young people up to the age of 25 are allowed to continue coverage through their parents’ plans. He seeks to reimburse employer health plans for a portion of the costs they will incur, support disease management programs, and coordinate and integrate care. Obama’s plan also plans to fight AIDS worldwide, support Americans with disabilities, support Americans with Autism, and improve mental healthcare.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain states on his website that, “We can and must provide health care for every American,” but that he believes “the key to health care reform is to restore control to the patients themselves.” One aspect of John McCain’s plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people’s needs. McCain believes that people should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines. Furthermore, McCain calls for tax code reform as a means of offering choice beyond employer-based health insurance coverage. McCain’s website notes that in addition to employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit of $2,500 in cash for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Like Obama, McCain seeks to make insurance more portable, meaning that insurance will follow Americans from job to job. Moreover, McCain encourages the expansion of the benefits of Health Savings Account (HSAs) for families; he believes that being informed about medical choices allows families to be better in charge of their health plan. McCain will establish a Guaranteed Access Plan, in which he will work with governors to develop a best practice model that states can follow. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level. Lastly, McCain hopes to lower drug prices by bringing more competition to our drug market, providing quality and cheaper care for people with chronic diseases, coordinating care, and promoting 21st century technology to reduce costs by allowing doctors to practice across state lines.

Sources: www.johnmccain.com, www.barackobama.com, www.votegopher.com

1 comments:

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