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Tax treatment of health insurance

January 29, 2007

Re "Health proposal gives and takes," Jan. 25

The president's proposal to extend health insurance to more Americans raises awareness of the unequal tax treatment of health insurance. Regardless of whether a patient receives health insurance through his employer or purchases it on his own, he should be given equal tax treatment. Patients need to own their own insurance plan so they don't lose it when they change jobs.

In addition, the American Medical Assn. supports a system of income-based tax credits, or vouchers, for the purchase of health insurance, expanding coverage for lower-income Americans. Such states as California are beginning the debate to develop plans to expand healthcare coverage to their residents. The AMA supports innovative state efforts to cover the uninsured, as states can serve as testing grounds for more substantial federal reforms. Action is needed. We simply cannot afford to let the ranks of our uninsured continue to grow.

WILLIAM G. PLESTED MD

President

American Medical Assn.

Washington

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