McCain Clarifies Parts of Health Care Reform Proposal
At a Washington, D.C., forum organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) clarified that his health care proposal would allow employers to deduct health insurance costs from their taxable income, the AP/Boston Globe reports. According to McCain, when he announced the proposal last month, his aides erroneously said that he would eliminate the tax deduction to help pay for the plan.
McCain said, "The employer tax deduction stays in place so the employer still has an incentive to provide health insurance to the employee, but the employee now loses the health tax incentive and it is replaced by the refundable tax credit." McCain also apologized "if there was any confusion" about the proposal (Sidoti, AP/Boston Globe, 10/31).
In addition, McCain said that the proposal would not require U.S. residents to obtain health insurance because many residents do not have coverage by choice. He said, "I'm not going to force Americans to buy insurance," adding, "But if we bring down the cost, I'm convinced more and more will take advantage of it."
In response to questions about his votes against legislation to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program and establish the Medicare prescription drug benefit, McCain said that he opposes public health care programs not limited to low-income residents (Bartolf, CQ HealthBeat, 10/31).
He also criticized the health care proposals of Republican presidential candidates former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for their failure to address the most important issues with the health care system (AP/Boston Globe, 10/31).
Summaries of several additional developments in the presidential campaign related to health care appear below.
- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.): Clinton on Wednesday received the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 1.4 million nurses and other public service workers nationwide, the AP/Boston Herald reports. AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, who has long made health care reform a priority for the union, said that Clinton "will help rebuild America's middle class and make sure everyone shares in our country's prosperity" (AP/Boston Herald, 10/31).
- Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.): Edwards on Thursday began to air a 60-second television advertisement in Iowa that encourages Democratic voters to "have a little guts" and "stand up for working men and women," the AP/Miami Herald reports. In the ad, which features images of workers and children, Edwards says, "If you're looking for heroes, don't look to me. Don't look to Elizabeth. We have support. We have health care. We have the American people behind us," adding, "Look to them. They are the ones who we speak for. They are the ones that we stand up for" (Lorentzen, AP/Miami Herald, 11/1).