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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...

"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.

Besides criticizing the report's projections of uninsured people, Moffit faults the report for concluding that McCain's proposed tax changes will only have limited effects on boosting the number of insured Americans.

"We have never had a tax policy like this, so there is no historical experience to draw from," he says. "But it is hard to believe that giving this kind of generous tax relief, including refundable tax credits, to vast numbers of people will only result in 2 million more insured."

He adds that the assertion that Obama's plan will be more "affordable, accessible, efficient and higher quality" is not supported by facts.

"Both McCain and Obama are promoting the expanded use of health information technology and disease management care coordination," he says. "These are the kinds of things that will improve the system and there is no debate about them."

Moffit contends that McCain's plan will make health care more portable and give people more options about where they get their heath insurance.

"These days, job lock is a huge problem," he says. "Many, many people stay in jobs they don't like because they don't want to lose their health insurance. Under McCain's plan people won't be punished by the tax code for changing jobs."

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