MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS: Candidates Weigh In on Issue
Medical savings accounts (MSAs) were the latest topic in the Associated Press' series of questions posed to the presidential candidates. Here are the Democrats' answers to the question: "Should the government let anyone set aside money in a tax-free medical savings account to help pay for their health care?"
- Bill Bradley: "Medical savings accounts fragment the risk pool and are the exact opposite of the purpose of insurance -- that is, to spread the risk as broadly as possible. Health care is a shared responsibility, which in part means that we all pay in for the day when we have to draw upon our insurance. Medical savings accounts mean wealthier people can opt out of the risk pool, leaving a smaller pool of poorer people who would face higher premiums. That is inconsistent with my plans for health care."
- Al Gore: "I am opposed to Republican proposals to broaden medical savings accounts. These proposals have the potential to segment healthy populations from the sick in the insurance market and therefore leave sicker populations with higher health care costs. We already have some demonstrations on MSAs today and should wait and see what kind of impact they have on the insurance market [before] considering a full blown proposal."
GOP candidates gave the following responses:
- George W. Bush: "I want a health care system that is patient-driven, not government-run, that leaves medical decisions in the hands of physicians instead of insurance companies, that encourages research and innovation, and that offers more and better choices to consumers. I believe every American should have access to quality, affordable health care by giving consumers better information about health care plans, providing more choices such as medical savings accounts and changing tax laws to help more people, such as the uninsured and the self-employed, afford health insurance."
- Alan Keyes: "Yes."
- John McCain: "My tax plan immediately expands and strengthens MSAs. The plan expands eligibility for MSAs to all Americans who have a high-deductible health insurance plan. It eliminates the requirement that insurance coverage be paid for by the employer. In addition, the plan lowers the minimum deductible in the required insurance plan to $1,000 for singles and $2,000 for families and it allows taxpayers an MSA tax deduction before taking standard or itemized deductions. The proposal eliminates the cap on the number of MSAs permitted by law and makes them permanent. It helps the millions of American families who do not have long term care insurance and are particularly vulnerable to the enormous expenses of long term health care" (AP/Nando Times, 2/28).