From USA Today:
President Bush will use Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to begin a new effort to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance and try to capitalize on state innovations. Bush’s plan would financially reward states that make basic private policies more widely available. Already, more than a dozen states from Massachusetts to California have proposed expanding private health insurance, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Monday.
The president’s plan would not involve any new federal money. It would redirect some of the $30 billion the government spends annually to care for people without health insurance who show up at hospitals and emergency rooms. The administration expects opposition from Democrats, particularly those who favor a system of government-subsidized health insurance.
The AmSpec Blog reports:
1) Under the plan, individuals purchasing insurance on their own or through their employer would be exempt from paying income or payroll taxes on the first $15,000 of their income. This would translate into $4,500 for a family of four with income of $60,000. In addition, small businesses such as S-corporations would get the same tax incentives for providing healthcare as larger companies.
2) The second part of the plan would recognize that even with such tax incentives, some people would still be too sick or poor to find affordable healthcare. So, the plan would call for federal dollars currently being sent to institutions to be diverted to individual states doing “innovative things” to help individuals afford private insurance.
I wonder if state-sponsored Web sites for ordering imported drugs from Canada qualify as “innovative things” by the White House’s definition? Unfortunately, I doubt it.
Merrill Goozer, via Spin Thicket, provides a less-than-glowing analysis of Bush’s plan, saying it would create a two-tier healthcare system that favors the wealthy.86