Bush To Call for Tax Credits Related to Health Spending
A top economic adviser to President Bush on Tuesday said Bush is considering proposing in his State of the Union address new tax breaks for out-of-pocket medical expenses as part of an effort to curb rising health costs through consumer-directed health care, USA Today reports (Jackson, USA Today, 1/25). The tax deductions, expected to be included in the 2007 budget that Bush will release in two weeks, would allow people who buy private insurance to write off a larger portion of money spent on copayments, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses (Goldstein, Washington Post, 1/25).
Allan Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, said the current tax code provides advantages when employers buy health coverage for their workers, but not to individuals who buy private insurance. He said, "The president's very concerned about the unfairness of the tax code."
Bush also has discussed other efforts to rein in health spending, including expanding health savings accounts and increasing information available to health care consumers to encourage patients to seek out less-costly care.
According to USA Today, Bush also has "indicated he will revive past health care proposals," including allowing businesses to pool their health insurance costs across state lines as well as restricting medical malpractice lawsuits (USA Today, 1/25). Bush's efforts "represen[t] one of the few areas in which the president will try to create new domestic policies through what he and aides have said will be an austere budget," the Post reports (Washington Post, 1/25).
Both big and small businesses support Bush's anticipated proposals and are in favor of legislation that would enable them to limit health care spending without eliminating health benefits altogether, The Hill reports.
Critics of Bush's proposals have said the efforts are an attempt to pass health care costs to workers (Young, The Hill, 1/25).
WBUR's "Here & Now" on Tuesday included a discussion of Bush's health care reform plans, including additional tax deductions. The segment includes comments from Glenn Hubbard, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and dean of Columbia Business School, and Ken Thorpe, chair of the health policy department at Emory University and a health policy adviser in the Clinton administration (Young, "Here & Now," WBUR, 1/24). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.