Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Healthcare's Partisan Divide

Terri Gross did a terrific interview on her show Fresh Air with political scientist Jonathan Oberlander in which he compares McCain and Obama's proposed health plans. Dr. Oberlander recently published The Partisan Divide — The McCain and Obama Plans for U.S. Health Care Reform in the New England Journal of Medicine. I haven't read the article yet, but the interview was very interesting. You can listen to the interview online as well as read an abstract at NPR.org

Dr. Oberlander doesn't seem too fond of McCain's plans, pointing out that the tax credits they offer will do little to offset the cost of moving from employer-based to private insurance. (Tax credit for families: $5000. Average price of private insurance for families: $13,000.) He also notes that many employers don't seem to like it, either.

He's tough on the Obama plan for putting too much responsibility in the hands of the government, and especially for counting on money to fund the plan that realistically won't be available. (One of my biggest gripes about several of Obama's plans are that he says the rollback of Bush's tax cuts for those making more than $250k will pay for the new plans. It's as if he's assuming the repealing the tax cuts would result in a bottomless pit of cash, which just isn't the case. He needs to more clearly specify how the tax revenues will be divided.)

[I feel better about this since Obama's acceptance speech. See my post immediately above.]

The reality for both plans is that if the next president's party doesn't have a majority in Congress, they will either end up being very watered down or, much like the reforms proposed in the early 90s (or Social Security reforms proposed pretty much any time), they'll die a very public and very painful death.

Put on your headphones and spend 33 minutes educating yourself on the difficulties facing both plans.


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