THE UNINSURED: Candidates’ Plans Would Fall Short, Study Says
The "major shortcoming" of both Vice President Al Gore's and Texas Gov. George W. Bush's (R) proposals for lessening the number of uninsured Americans is that they fail to "address affordability for what is now considered the average health benefits package," according to a new analysis from the not-for-profit policy research group Employee Benefit Research Institute. The report, titled "The Working Uninsured: Campaign 2000 Proposals from the Presidential Candidates," notes that there are several common elements between the two candidates' plans, including giving tax credits to the uninsured. But the plans have "strong differences": Gore opposes "tax-preferred health accounts" while Bush favors them; Gore favors expanding Medicare to cover the uninsured while Bush does not. EBRI also details several shortfalls in proposals to alter the tax code to encourage individuals to purchase health care coverage. The report notes that of the 9.1 million taxpayers who would claim a 25% tax deduction for their insurance premiums, only 200,000 would previously have been uninsured. Further, the creation of new tax credits might shift the insurance market from employer-based to individual-based, as employers could drop coverage for their employees if insurance is afforded preferential tax treatment outside an employment-based system. EBRI also disputes the claim that Bush's and Gore's plans to expand CHIP would have any impact on decreasing the uninsured population, pointing out that previous expansions of Medicaid failed to substantially decrease the number of uninsured children. Lastly, the report includes "new data and recent trends" about the working uninsured, as well as Web site links to "national third-party policy statements on the uninsured" and to other health- and policy-related groups. To see a full copy of the report, go to www.ebri.org (EBRI release, 7/13).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.