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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Candidates' Health Plans: Healthy Impact?

Commonwealth Fund Says Obama's Plan Insures More People Than McCain's; Critic Challenges Group's Projections

Comparing the Candidates' Plans continued...

Under McCain's proposal, employer contributions to insurance plans they provide to employees would be taxable. He also favors the creation of a federal fund to expand existing state high-risk pools to people who have health conditions that make it difficult to get private coverage.

Commonwealth Fund Assistant Vice President Sara R. Collins tells WebMD that McCain's plan would be much fairer for low- and middle-income Americans than the Bush administration's recent proposal to replace the employee benefit tax deduction with personal income tax reductions for people who purchase health insurance.

"That would have targeted higher-income households," she says. "McCain's tax credits offer much more for lower- and middle-income families. It is far more progressive in that sense."

Obama's plan seeks to expand coverage by offering a mix of private and public group health insurance options.

With the exception of small businesses, all employers would be required to offer health insurance to the people they employ or contribute to the cost.

Eligibility for Medicaid and the children's health insurance program known as SCHIP would be expanded, and small businesses, self-employed people, and those who do not have coverage through their employers, Medicaid, or SCHIP would be able to purchase a plan through a nationwide insurance market.

In a Wednesday news conference, Collins noted that both proposals fall far short of universal health care.

But she added that Obama has stated his support for universal coverage, while McCain has not.

Roughly 160 million Americans -- more than 60% of the population under the age of 65 -- currently have employer-provided health insurance.

Collins says employer-provided coverage is likely to increase under Obama's plan and decline under McCain's because of the McCain proposal to tax employer contributions to the health plans they provide.

The report concludes that "Senator Obama's plan shows the greater potential for making care more affordable, accessible, efficient, and higher quality, though it will likely fall short of covering everyone."

Critic's Perspective on the Commonwealth Fund Report

Moffit tells WebMD that he's not surprised by the report's conclusion, since the Obama plan is very similar to one proposed by The Commonwealth Fund earlier this year.

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