In our ongoing efforts to expose Senator McCain’s lies about Senator Obama’s policies, we need to look at the McCain campaigns lies and then provide some “straight talk” about the facts
McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs” and would put “a bureaucrat … between you and your doctor.” In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.
McCain mischaracterized Obama’s health care plan:
McCain claims Obama’s plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
The claim that “small businesses” would have to “cut jobs, reduce wages,” runs counter to Obama’s actual proposal. Obama’s plan would require businesses to contribute to the cost of insurance for employees or pay some unspecified amount into a new public plan. But his proposal specifically says, “Small businesses will be exempt from this requirement.” And it offers additional help to small businesses that want to provide health care in the form of a refundable tax credit of up to half the cost of premiums. We’ll note that neither man has defined what exactly a “small business” is.
Furthermore, Obama’s plan wouldn’t “force” families into a “government-run health care system.” His plan mandates that children have coverage; there’s no mandate for adults. People can keep the health insurance they have now or chose from private plans, or opt for a new public plan that will offer coverage similar to what members of Congress have. Obama would also expand Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. His plan certainly expands government-offered insurance – and McCain’s doesn’t – but it’s not a solely government-run plan, as McCain implied. And if Obama’s public plan turns out to be similar to what federal employees have, as he says it would be, we’re not sure how “a bureaucrat” would stand “between you and your doctor.” The possible exception would be persons covered by Medicaid or SCHIP.
Health Care for America Now (HCAN) – the unprecedented coalition of large labor groups, community-based organizations, women’s groups, doctors, nurses, small businesses, think tanks, and leading netroots activists – released the following statement today in response to Senator McCain’s repeated false claims that Senator Obama’s health care plan will “force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor”:
“Senator Obama’s heath care plan offers the American people and American business a choice. His plan allows individuals to stay with the private insurance they have now, choose a new health care plan similar to the one Congress has, or opt into a new public plan so we are no longer left at the mercy of the private insurance industry. His plan includes lowering health care costs for small business and allowing employers to offer health insurance by paying for it as a percentage of their payroll rather than continue to feed into the current system where premiums are completely disconnected from what a business can afford.
Too many Americans already know the frustration of having a bureaucrat stand between them and their doctor because that is exactly how the unregulated private insurance market operates now. McCain’s health care plan, which proposes taxing your health care benefits at work and eliminating what little regulation already exists by allowing people to purchase across state lines, will raise costs and lower consumer protections.
Obama’s proposed universal health-care plan embodies the long-held Democratic Party goal of covering the 47 million Americans who lack health insurance. Employers, insurers, individuals and the government all would have greater roles in assuring coverage through a number of proposals designed to close gaps in the system.
“It builds on the existing system and recognizes that we’re not starting from scratch,” said M. Gregg Bloche, health care adviser for Obama. “One can’t impose sudden radical change on the system from the top down. There are real limitations to what can be accomplished centrally with respect to health care.”
McCain’s plan takes a different approach. It follows Republican orthodoxy of trying to make the private-insurance marketplace more affordable and competitive by radically altering the tax treatment of health-care benefits.
For years employers have been able to exclude the cost of health benefits from their employees’ taxable incomes, but self-employed workers and those who buy private coverage don’t have the same tax benefit. To level the playing field, McCain no longer would exempt employees’ health benefits from income taxes. Instead, he’d provide refundable tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to help purchase private insurance.
Though Senator John McCain has promised to not raise taxes, his campaign acknowledged that the health plan he outlined this week would have the effect of increasing tax payments for some workers, primarily those with high incomes and expensive health plans.
Disputed characterizations are not uncommon on the trail. At a campaign stop this week in Missouri, Mr. McCain said that Mr. Obama’s plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.”
Jonathan B. Oberlander, who teaches health policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that Mr. Obama’s plan would not force families into a government-run system. “I would say this is an inaccurate and false characterization of the Obama plan,” he said. “I don’t use those words lightly.”
It seems everybody but Senator McCain and the RNC think McCain is lying about Obama’s health care plan.