GOP: HEALTH CARE PLANK RELEASED, POPULARITY EXPOUNDED
The Republican National Committee (RNC) released the finalThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
draft of its platform yesterday, which was passed by the platform
committee Wednesday. RNC Chair Haley Barbour called the draft "a
strong, unifying platform which will launch [the GOP] toward
victory at the polls in November." On health care issues, the
platform states: "The goal of the Republican Party is to
maintain the quality of America's health care while making health
care and health insurance more accessible and more affordable."
The platform "expresses support" for portable health insurance, a
ban on pre-existing condition exclusions and "tax-free medical
savings accounts so that individuals can plan for their own
medical needs" (RNC release, 8/8).
PAYING FOR A TAX CUT: Presumptive GOP presidential nominee
Bob Dole's $550 billion tax-cutting plan contains a proposal to
change the tax status of "the health costs of the self-employed."
According to a new analysis by Congress' Joint Tax Committee,
Dole's plan to increase the tax-deductibility of health insurance
for the self-employed is "much more modest than originally
described." Under his plan, self-employed individuals would be
able to deduct 100% of the cost of health insurance from their
federal income taxes, up from the current 30%. However, the
change would not take effect until 2006 so its costs won't "even
show up in the six-year window of the Dole plan." WALL STREET
JOURNAL notes that the proposal and others were "reduced in scope
to hold down the overall costs" of Dole's tax-cut plan (Calmes,
TAX ATTACK: In California yesterday, President Clinton
"ridiculed" Dole's plan and "implied that [his] approach would
jeopardize programs like Medicare." Clinton said, "I say to you
that it might not be popular, but I will not advocate any cuts in
taxes in this election that cannot be paid for in our attempts to
balance the budget. ... It's like going to the candy store. You
know, 'I'll have some of that and some of that and some of that
and some of that.' But if you eat it all at once, you might get
sick" (Mitchell, NEW YORK TIMES, 8/9).
MONEY MATTERS: A new analysis by the magazine MONEY has
concluded that "Americans and Congress differ dramatically on the
federal budget and Medicare." In its September issue, MONEY
reports that despite GOP efforts to pass "far-reaching deficit
reduction and Medicare reform bills ... Americans much prefer the
scaled-back alternatives proposed by the Democrats." However,
most Americans do support medical savings accounts, a
constitutional balanced budget amendment, reform of product-
liability laws and returning Medicaid nursing home regulation to
the states -- all "ideas advocated by Republicans and opposed by
Democrats" (9/96 issue).
OPINION: In an editorial titled "Suddenly, Ailing Medicare
Owns the Voters' Hearts: Politicians are concurring now on an
Rx: managed care," the LOS ANGELES TIMES notes that "[b]oth
political parties have come to prefer essentially the same remedy
for controlling Medicare costs: Bring it under managed care."
However, the TIMES writes that "before racing to embrace managed
care for Medicare," the private and public sector must confront
"Monopolization" and "Fraud" in the Medicare system. TIMES
concludes, "Cutbacks probably will prove to be politically
unpopular. But they are one way that managed care -- a system
that has previously cut costs largely by 'cherry-picking,'
choosing to cover only the most healthy customers -- can serve a
much older population with efficiency" (8/7).