Health Insurance Tax Credit Plan Attracts Scant Support
A year after President Bush proposed providing federal tax deductions to help U.S. residents purchase health insurance, Congress is yet to take action on the plan, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, administration officials have been unsuccessful "in their efforts to sell the idea to key lawmakers, failing even to get a committee hearing."
The proposal would provide tax deductions of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families to help residents purchase individual health insurance or coverage through employers. In addition, the proposal would eliminate tax breaks for employer-sponsored health insurance in some cases.
The proposal "would have been a major change in both the tax code and the health care system, difficult to achieve under the best of political circumstances," and "last year was hardly that," with Democrats "not eager to compromise with a Republican president on a signature Democratic issue" and the "lack of working relationships" between administration officials and Democrats, according to the Post. According to individuals familiar with the situation, administration officials never expected the proposal to advance but hoped that the plan would "lay down a 'marker' of what a GOP approach to the uninsured would look like," the Post reports.
A senior Senate Republican aide said, "If there was any kind of failure here, it was really a failure to recognize that while it was a great contribution to the debate ... an idea of that magnitude was going to need a lot of work," adding, "It couldn't be put together in a few weeks, and it wasn't going to be politically viable last year in any sort of meaningful way" (Lee, Washington Post, 1/28).