Between 2001 and 2007, health insurance premiums have increased 78 percent, far outpacing the cumulative wage growth of 19 percent over the same period. We spend $1.2 trillion dollars on healthcare each year and yet 47 million of us are uninsured. To address this crisis, we have worked with the outstanding leadership of the University of Miami to host a debate on healthcare reform between surrogates of Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Storer Auditorium. Nancy Ann DeParle, the former administrator of the health care financing administration under President Clinton will represent Sen. Obama, and Rep. Michael Burgess, a U.S. congressman from the 26th district of Texas will represent Sen. McCain. In advance of this important event, it is necessary to analyze the candidates’ platforms.
- Maintain tax incentives to employers who provide health insurance
- Create national health insurance exchange including a new public plan that would compete with private insurers for small businesses and individuals unable to get insurance from employers or ineligible for Medicaid or SCHIP. This plan would offer the same level of services as the plans used by members of congress.
- Applicants to the exchange cannot be denied coverage.
- Subsidies to employers to mitigate catastrophic costs and make premiums more affordable for employees and income-based subsides for the poor to purchase insurance
- Mandates the coverage of children
- Expand Medicaid and SCHIP
- Require employers, except small businesses, to offer health insurance to employees or contribute to the cost of a public plan.
- Will allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies for Medicare Part D
- Removal of tax incentives to employers who provide health insurance
- Provide a refundable tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to purchase health insurance in order to create an individual insurance market
- Allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines to increase competition
- Create a guaranteed access plan which will work with governors on a state-by-state basis to design the best program to cover those with preexisting conditions
- Expand health savings accounts so that families can save money tax free in order to use for out-of-pocket health expenditures
- No mandate on individuals or employers
- No position on the ability of the federal government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies for Medicare Part D
McCain’s primary goal is to reduce cost by increasing competition in the free market. Obama’s plan strives to achieve universal coverage by the expansion of public and private insurance. The difference between the principles is in the numbers: McCain’s plan would cost $1.3 trillion over 10 years, resulting in a net gain in coverage of 2 million people, and Obama’s plan insures an additional 34 million people at a cost of $1.6 trillion over the same period. Neither plan is a panacea, but a national discussion is the first step to reform – one we hope you’ll take part in Tuesday night.