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Health Care Heats Up Presidential Race

Obama Ads Attack McCain's Health Insurance Proposals; McCain Aide Calls Ads 'Deceitful'

Fact Checkers Weigh In

Obama's newly released ads addressing McCain's health care plan reportedly target elderly voters in battleground states like Florida.

In one of the new ads the announcer asserts: "John McCain talks about a $5,000 tax credit for health care. But here's what he's not telling you. McCain would make you pay income tax on your health insurance benefits. Taxing health benefits for the first time ever. And that tax credit? McCain's own web site says it goes straight to the insurance companies, not to you, leaving you on your own to pay McCain's health insurance tax."

The ad was judged to be only 'barely true' by PolitiFacts, a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly created to assess the accuracy of claims made in political advertisements.

In an article published Oct. 3 in the St. Petersburg Times, the assertion that McCain's plan leaves people "on their own" to pay a new tax on insurance was called "deceptive."

"The ad reminds viewers -- fairly, in our view -- about the end of the (employer) tax exemption, an important part of the overall McCain plan," the article notes. "But then the ad says, 'McCain's own web site says (the tax credit) goes straight to the insurance companies, not to you, leaving you on your own to pay McCain's health insurance tax. ...

"McCain's Web site does say that," the PolitiFact article states, "but there's an excellent reason that the credit goes to the insurance companies. It's so people don't blow the tax credit on cigarettes and beer (or whatever they'd like) instead of health insurance. Under McCain's plan, workers would pay taxes on the health exemption, but they would get $2,500 (or $5,000) knocked off their health insurance bill. If workers come out ahead and there's money left over, that would go into a health spending account for them to spend on health-related incidentals."

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