Friday, January 26, 2007


More On The Bush Health Care Plan

Writing for The American Prospect, Robert Reich gives qualified applause to President Bush's plan to provide tax deductions for health insurance. Bush proposes a tax deduction of up to $15,000 for families, and up to $7,500 for single people. Meanwhile, health coverage from employers would be included as taxable income, removing any tax advantage to getting one's health care benefits at work. Implicitly, this plan provides a green light to employers to stop offering health benefits altogether. Reich believes this would be in the end a good thing because the obligation to provide health care to all employees gives employers "perverse incentives" not to employ older people, or individuals with pre-existing health problems. Not only will the proposal make getting health care become more of a level playing field for all classes of employees, but it may also reduce employment discrimination.

Nonetheless, Reich gives only "one cheer" to Bush's proposal because millions of workers will not be able to afford health care even with the tax deductions. Reich believes that federally funded universal health care is the only solution. He also emphasizes that the preventive care available with universal health insurance could help nip the health problems of low income workers in the bud, before these manifest themselves as full blown conditions and flood the emergency rooms of America. Reich points out that Bush has more or less passed the responsibility for funding universal health insurance to the states, which are already overburdened by Medicaid costs. Reich insists that there should ultimately be a "single payer" for universal health insurance - and that it should be the federal government.

"Ending an Unhappy Marriage" from The American Prospect

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