NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 11, 2008

How do Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) differ on health care?  The National Journal compared and contrasted the two presidential candidates.  Below is a summary of McCain's positions on health care.

The uninsured:

  • Under McCain, the federal government would provide tax incentives for people to buy health insurance, and people would be allowed to purchase out-of-state insurance.
  • Promises to help states develop "guaranteed access plans" making it easier for individuals with poor health to get insurance.

Consumer impact:

  • All individuals could get a refundable $2,500 tax credit ($5,000 for couples) as an incentive to buy health insurance.
  • If a policy cost less than the amount of the tax credit, the consumer could deposit the remainder into a health savings account.
  • Veterans could transfer their VA benefits to other medical providers, individuals could get insurance through any organization or association, including an employer and workers could carry policies from job to job.
  • McCain would develop faster routes for approval of "safe, cheaper" generic drugs, including biologics.
  • He would develop safety protocols that allow Americans to import FDA-approved drugs.

Economic impact:

  • The federal government would have to pay for the proposed refundable tax credit, and the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health care would end.
  • Federal health care programs would reimburse medical providers more for positive outcomes, coordinating care and preventive services.
  • Several proposals could reduce costs for medical providers by eliminating "frivolous lawsuits and excessive damage awards."

Employer-provided health insurance:

  • McCain focuses less on maintaining the employer-based health care system than on giving individuals incentives to buy insurance.
  • He would allow small businesses and the self-employed to buy insurance through any organization or association.

Source: "McCain on Health Care," in "Where They Stand," National Journal, August 30, 2008.


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