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McCain backs open healthcare market

CAMPAIGN '08: RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

He'd give families a $5,000 credit to buy any plan they prefer.

April 30, 2008|From the Associated Press

TAMPA, FLA. — Republican John McCain wants to change how people get their health insurance, shifting from job-based coverage to an open market in which people choose from competing policies.

McCain said Tuesday he would offer families a $5,000 tax credit to help buy insurance policies. Everyone would get the credit, whether he or she kept a policy through an employer or shopped for a new one.

"You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best," McCain said in a speech Tuesday at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa. "The health plan you choose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family's healthcare plan, and yours to keep."

To pay for the tax credit, McCain would eliminate the tax exemption for people whose employers pay a portion of their coverage, raising an estimated $3.6 trillion in revenue, McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin said. Companies that provide coverage to workers still would get tax breaks. McCain said he would also cut costs by limiting lawsuits.

McCain criticized Democratic plans, saying Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton want government-run healthcare because they seek mandatory coverage -- Obama for children and Clinton for everyone.

Clinton countered that under McCain's plan, 158 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage.

"The McCain plan eliminates the policies that hold the employer-based health insurance system together, so while people might have a 'choice' of getting such coverage, employers would have no incentive to provide it," she said.

An Obama spokesman said McCain was "recycling the same failed policies that didn't work when George Bush first proposed them and won't work now."

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