Obama Criticizes Health Insurance Proposal of McCain

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Affordable health insurance coverage would not be accessible to all U.S. residents according to McCain's plan, says Obama.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on Thursday during a rally at a Bristol, Va., high school said that the health care proposal of presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) would not expand health insurance to all U.S. residents, the Washington Times reports.

Obama said that the proposal, which would replace a tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with a refundable tax credit of as much as $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families for the purchase of private coverage, only "takes care of the healthy and the wealthy" (Bellantoni/Lambro, Washington Times, 6/6). Obama also called the proposal "Bush-lite" (Simon, Media General/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/6). According to Obama, although health insurance premiums have increased at a higher rate than wages and millions of residents have lost coverage since President Bush took office in 2001, "McCain actually wants to double down on the failed policies that have done so little to help ordinary Americans" (Rucker, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/5).

Obama said that he would finance his health care proposal -- which would use the federal government to establish a marketplace in which residents could purchase private or public health insurance, with subsidies for lower-income residents -- in part through disease prevention programs and a paperless health care information technology system.

McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds said, "Barack Obama has no record of bipartisan success on this issue." Bounds added that Obama would "put the government between Americans and their health care," a proposal that "even his allies on Capitol Hill think is unrealistic" (Media General/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/6).

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Comparison of Health Care Proposals
The Wall Street Journal on Friday compared the health care proposals of Obama and McCain.

According to the Journal, "Obama wants all Americans to have health insurance," and he would "increase regulations and spend tax dollars to do it." For example, his proposal would prohibit health insurers from rejecting applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions.

Meanwhile, "McCain wouldn't likely make a big dent in the number of uninsured, but would decrease regulations to give people more choices," the Journal reports. His proposal, for example, would allow residents to purchase health insurance across state lines (Wall Street Journal graphic, 6/6).

Daschle as HHS Secretary?
In other election news, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in an interview with CongressDaily this week said that he "can be helpful ... in a prospective Obama administration on health care reform" and that he has interest in the position of HHS secretary. He added, "I've got some ideas that I think could be of help on this issue."

Daschle in February published the book "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," in which he proposed a Federal Health Board to "create a public framework for a largely private health care delivery system" (McPike, CongressDaily, 6/5).

"A Closer Look" interview with Daschle about his book is available on kaisernetwork.org.

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