In Tampa, McCain addresses U.S. health care
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04/29/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Republican Presidential nominee John McCain addressed his plan for solving the country’s health care crisis this morning at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. McCain proposes shifting trillions of dollars in tax credits from businesses that provide health coverage to employees who buy their own.

Sen. McCain said the two fundamental problems troubling the American health care system are cost and access. He proposed replacing some employment-based health insurance coverage by giving individuals a $2,500 tax credit to encourage them to buy private insurance. Families would get a $5,000 dollar tax credit.

“Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage. Americans want a system built so that wherever you go and where ever you work, your health plan goes with you. … Every year, they would receive a tax credit directly, with the same cash value of the credits for employees in big companies, in a small business, or self-employed. You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best.”

McCain said companies will still be allowed to offer their employees health insurance benefits. But U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) is concerned that employers may not be motivated to provide these benefits after their tax credits for doing so have been eliminated.

“You know in America today we have 180 million Americans that rely on their employer for health care and John McCain’s plan undermines that contract that folks have with their employer. McCain’s health care ideas do nothing to address the 47 million uninsured Americans and the 9 million uninsured children. So if you liked what happened over the past 8 years under George Bush and the Republicans, you’re going to love John McCain because it’s more of the same.”

Castor is a superdelegate and the Florida co-chair of the Barack Obama campaign.

The cost of McCain’s program would be paid for by taking the funds currently used to give tax credits for businesses that provide insurance to their employees, according to McCain senior policy advisor Doug Holtz-Eakin. He said it would amount to $3.6-trillion over 10 years.

But Castor said $5,000 would not be enough for a family to pay for medical care or to afford health insurance that averages $12,000 per year.

“McCain went along with President Bush in blocking access to health care for more children,” the SCHIP program, Castor said.

John McCain said that the American health care system needs to be fixed, but the solutions offered by the two Democratic presidential candidates are not the answer.

“There are those who are convinced that the solution is to move closer to a nationalized health care system. They urge, they urge universal coverage, with all the tax increase, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea. But in the end this will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly.”

McCain stressed that besides affordability, another reason why so many millions of Americans do not have health coverage is that they are considered “uninsurable” by insurance companies because of pre-existing medical conditions. He said he would look to the states for a model system for a Guaranteed Access Plan or GAP.

“I will work with Congress, the governors, and industry to make sure that it is funded adequately and has the right incentives to reduce costs such as disease management, individual case management, and health and wellness programs, and I want to emphasize health and wellness programs. These programs reach out to people who are at risk for different diseases and chronic conditions and provide them with nurse care managers to make sure they receive the proper care and avoid unnecessary treatments and emergency room visits.”

McCain said health care should focus on preventative care. He also suggested that it should be more difficult for patients to sue doctors for malpractice.

“We must pass medical liability reform, and those reforms should eliminate lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guide lines and adhere to patient safety protocols. If Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are sincere in their conviction that health care coverage and quality is their first priority, then they will put the needs of patients before the demands of trial lawyers.”

Outside the Moffitt Cancer Center on the University of South Florida campus, McCain was greeted by about a dozen protesters that included USF students, members of the Democratic Party, and labor union activists.

Jennifer Kenny drove from Winter Park, north of Orlando, to protest John McCain.

Following his appearance at the Moffitt Cancer Center, John McCain attended a fundraising lunch.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane/WMNF

Learn more:

John McCain

McCain’s healthcare plan

Rep. Kathy Castor

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