Rep. Burgess Is Wrong: McCain’s Health Care Plan Would Undermine Existing Coverage

mccaincoverage.jpgYesterday, speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), who helped craft Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) health care plan, suggested that McCain’s reforms would not push Americans to abandon their current insurance plans. TechRepublican wrote about the event:

He [Burgess] noted that when discussing health care it’s important to leave people with the notion that they don’t have to change. If you like your current health care plan, you can keep it. He noted that 62% of people in his home district are satisfied with their existing care. Bottom line: be careful about rocking the health care boat.

McCain’s proposal wouldn’t just rock “the health care boat,” it would tip it over. As the Wonk Room has previously reported, McCain’s plan to replace the current tax breaks for employer-sponsored health insurance with a one-size-fits-all tax credit places the 158 million Americans who receive their health care through their jobs in danger of losing coverage.

By equalizing the tax treatment of employer and individual plans, McCain would entice healthy workers to buy cheaper but less substantive insurance in the individual market place. The exodus of healthier workers from employer-pools would increase the average health care costs for sicker employees who can’t find coverage in the individual market, forcing them to opt out entirely.

As the Center for American Progress Action Fund pointed out, the entire employer health insurance system could unravel, “ending this as an option for Americans who prefer it.” According to a 2007 Gallup survey, that’s a lot of people. Despite rising health care costs, 70 percent of Americans still rate their health care coverage as either “excellent” or “good.”

McCain’s plan would increase their costs and provide less coverage.