This morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took his ‘repeal the bill’ tour to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. McCain began the program by reciting the usual talking points about the bill, but when a caller described his health care plan and asked the senator how he would be affected by reform, McCain assured him that it would:
CALLER: First of all, I would like to say I voted for you and I’m very sorry that you were not elected. I have right now a medical plan that furnishes me with hospitalization, physician’s care, drugs, eyeglasses and dental. Now, when this goes through, could I possibly lose my benefits from my employer? And will they be taking it away from Medicare?
MCCAIN: James, I’d have to know the plan and all of that, but it sounds to me like you have one of the “Cadillac plans.” In other words, a very generous benefits. There is no doubt there would be taxes on the so-called Cadillac health insurance policies that people have. I mean, that’s just part of the deal. I’d have to see your — you know, have a little more information, but from the sounds of it, it’s one of those “Cadillac programs” that would be subject to taxation.
Well, given the fact that McCain has been on one form of government health care or another at almost every stage of his life, he may not know that hospitalization, physicians’ care, drugs and eyeglasses are fairly standard benefits that don’t automatically fall into the “Cadillac” characterization. In fact, in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill, “a high-cost health plan is defined as costing more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family” — far higher than the average cost of insurance. (In 2009, the total cost of the average family policy offered by employers was $13,375.)
The thresholds are even higher for early retirees or Americans in high cost professions and don’t include the cost of stand-alone vision or dental benefits. The tax “would not be imposed until 2018, giving health plans more time to benefit from possible cost savings from other reform measures” and would only affect a very small percentage of Americans.
McCain’s comments however aren’t only irresponsible, but they also incredibly ironic. During the 2008 presidential campaign, McCain proposed taxing everyone’s health care benefits, putting forward a plan that would have replaced the current tax exemption for employer-based coverage with a one-size-fits all tax credit. He’s full of straight talk, alright.