WHITE HOUSE 2000: Health Insurance Tax Cuts to Play Big
Health care reform, particularly decreasing the number of uninsured through tax cuts, "promises to become a flash point in the campaigns" next year, the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports. At a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee last week, John Goodman, director of the National Center for Policy Analysis and a policy adviser to GOP presidential front-runner Gov. George Bush (TX), said the source of the insurance crisis lies in the tax code. Pointing out the regressive nature of the employer-based system, he said, "The current system of tax subsidies gives the most relief to people who least need encouragement." About 10 tax credit proposals are circulating on Capitol Hill, all claiming to be the most desirable way to "redistribute part or all of the estimated $100 billion in health-related tax relief now going to employers and people who receive employer-sponsored health benefits." But Consumers Union warns that such plans may actually cause employers to drop their coverage. In addition, "tax credit proposals could seriously erode health coverage for individuals and families with substantial pre-existing conditions," the group warned. While the debate "is still in its early stages," Goodman noted that "such a wide ideological spectrum is turning toward the same solutions." He said, "Whether or not we get a bill this year, I don't know, but it's clear to me that everyone agrees that a tax credit plan is the way to go. There are no other proposals" (Singer, 6/19).
Bradley Touts Universal Coverage
In related news, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley "called for a public and private partnership to pay the $55 billion it would cost to cover all America's uninsured." He did not provide details, saying they would come later, but did stress that he would not try to push reform through quickly, as President Clinton did in 1993. Bradley's comments came in Glendale, CA, where his views took a back seat to his wife Ernestine's discussion of her battle with breast cancer (Los Angeles Times, 6/19).