Here are samples of comments by health policy experts from the major public policy research organizations about the president?s health reform proposal:
o "The new tax deduction would eliminate one of the major hidden forces driving up health cost – the unlimited tax break for job-based health insurance – and level the playing field so that everyone would have an equal opportunity to get a tax break for buying insurance." Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute.
o "Limiting the tax subsidy for employer-sponsored insurance is an idea long promoted by policy wonks, and long ignored by everyone else. What has changed is the realization that a well-tuned policy to reduce the tax incentives for over-insurance does not have to mandate how individuals buy their health coverage." Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute.
o "President Bush's proposal to reform the tax treatment of health care takes a bold step toward fixing America's health care system by widening the availability of affordable and 'portable' health plans available to Americans and by defusing some of the pressure that currently leads to higher health costs." Stuart Butler and Nina Owcharenko of The Heritage Foundation.
o The president's proposal "is on target in many ways?Among working-age people, it creates more consumer awareness of the marginal cost of richer insurance and the marginal cost of additional medical treatment." Stephen Entin of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation.
o "The president's plan would encourage responsibility by limiting the amount of health insurance we can deduct from our taxes each year…The changes would dramatically reduce the number of uninsured, allowing tens of millions of Americans to save thousands of dollars a year on insurance." Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute.
o "By giving individually purchased and employer-purchased health care identical tax breaks, insurance will be more affordable for millions of Americans who are self-employed, or who can't afford or are not offered insurance through their employer. This tax change supports the transformation of our health care system to a market-oriented system where patients and doctors are in charge, not government, employers, and insurance companies." Sean Parnell of the Heartland Institute.
o "We live in a 21st century information economy with a dynamic and mobile workforce. But health insurance has been trapped in a 20th century industrial economy model. This step will help health insurance and the economy grow to meet their potential." Merrill Matthews of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance.
o "President Bush's health care proposals would help remove some of the distortions that have plagued the health insurance market for nearly 60 years. As a result, more people would be insured, the insurance they have would better suit their needs, and fewer people would rely on the social safety net." John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.
o "The one really interesting domestic proposal in the speech was on health care. The basic idea of limiting tax subsidies for employer-sponsored health insurance and using the savings to make health insurance more affordable and available for low-to-moderate income Americans is sound; it's a good way to help tamp down health care inflation while expanding access to health insurance." Democratic Leadership Council
o "The plan would eliminate the current bias in favor of health insurance obtained through employers, provide tax incentives for the purchase of health insurance in the private market, and reduce current tax incentives to over-spend on healthcare services. As designed, the proposal would be revenue neutral over ten years, after which it would generate a growing stream of revenue. The innovative plan is a major step toward improving the efficiency of the market for health insurance. By severing the link between work and insurance, it would offer everyone the same tax incentives to obtain insurance coverage and limit spending on health care." Len Berman, et al. Urban Institute.
o "Given that we agree that we need some combination of individual and social responsibility, this is one key step in a total package that could bring coverage to all Americans," Len Nichols of the New America Foundation.
o "The American Medical Association applauds President Bush's renewed focus on covering the uninsured…the President has raised the nation's awareness of the inequities in the tax treatment of Americans based on individual versus employer purchased health care: Bottom line: Americans with individually purchased health insurance pay taxes on the entire cost of their insurance, while those with employer-sponsored health coverage don't." William G. Plested, M.D. of the American Medical Association.
o "When it comes to health care, the tax code is biased in favor of individuals who get insurance from their employers. To remove this inequality, the President proposes replacing the existing — and unlimited — exclusion for employer-sponsored insurance with a flat deduction for those with at least catastrophic health insurance. As long as a family has at least a catastrophic health insurance policy, they will be able to deduct the first $15,000 from their income ($7,500 for an individual). This will foster a true marketplace for health care, encourage competition, improve the efficiency of the system, and reduce the ranks of the uninsured." Reforming the Health Care Marketplace. From the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2008.