Focus Point - Health Care ReformCommentary by Pete du Pont
December 24, 2001
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The House Ways and Means Committee is trying to give laid off workers a Christmas present. Will the house play Santa, or Grinch?
Committee chairman Bill Thomas wants up to $10 billion in the stimulus package to help laid-off workers and the self-employed buy health insurance. Some people think that's an entitlement, but it's really just taking an entitlement that already exists and making it fair, because right now it only applies to one form of health insurance coverage.
People who get health insurance through their employer get a huge benefit the uninsured or self-employed don't: tax free compensation in the form of health insurance.
Those who buy their own coverage or have none at all get no tax advantage. But a tax credit of the kind Thomas proposes would level the playing field, and would do it for no more than what we already spend on services for the uninsured - about $30 billion a year. Moreover, it would put insurance decisions in people's hands, where they belong. Now that would be a lovely Christmas present.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, Christmas wishes.