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Health Care Heats Up Presidential Race

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

McCain Aide: Obama's Claims Are False continued...

The McCain advisor says Obama's claim that the Republican's plan would result in a tax increase for middle-class Americans was false.

"You would have to be getting an enormous amount of health insurance, one the middle class can only dream of, in order to have a net tax liability," he says. "Some Americans are actually paying out of pocket and getting no help whatsoever. This would give them the same help, $2,500 for an individual, $5,000 for a family, that those receiving from an employer get."

Holtz-Eakin says Obama's proposed health care plan represents "a strong push for much more centralized government-run health insurance."

Obama wants to mandate health care coverage for children and he would create a new public insurance program to be called the Health Exchange for people who don't have insurance through their employer, Medicaid, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

"Barack Obama says that Washington is broken, but he's running his health care system through it," Holtz-Eakin says. "It doesn't make sense."

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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