McCAIN WOULD DRIVE UP HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR FAMILIES, WHILE BENEFITING HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES

WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain’s health care plan would dismantle the employer-provided system that covers more than 60 percent of non-elderly Americans and drive up health care costs, according to experts responding to the announcement of his proposal today. An average family could see their health care costs as much as double under the McCain health care plan, according to an analysis by the Campaign for America’s Future.

Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey, one of the leaders of a new coalition of groups working to fix the broken health care system, said that Sen. McCain’s plan would tax the health care premiums employers pay for their workers, encouraging most companies to stop providing any coverage. Hickey noted that instead of lowering costs, this would force millions of Americans to buy more expensive coverage with inadequate tax credits, greatly increasing the number of families who can’t afford quality care.

“John McCain’s plan must’ve been written by the insurance companies. It leaves them in more control of America’s health care system than ever before,” said Hickey. “John McCain wants us all to buy insurance not as part of a group – like an employee group or a co-op – that can negotiate for better coverage at lower premiums, but as individuals, at the mercy of the private insurance companies. It would leave millions of people with worse coverage, more chronic health problems and higher levels of health cost-driven bankruptcies.”

Most people, even those with good insurance, don’t get the health care they need, contributing to rising health costs. Sen. McCain, however, believes that the problem with health care is that Americans have too much insurance and that if consumers pay for it out of their own pockets, they will in turn force hospitals and insurance companies to become more efficient.

Dr. Jacob Hacker, a professor at Yale University and the author of the “Health Care for America” plan, which Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards used as the basis for their health care proposals, disagrees with McCain’s fundamental premise. Hacker said the real problem is rising health care costs and declining coverage.

“McCain’s proposal doesn’t address either of these problems in a serious way,” said Hacker. “The real problem for most Americans isn’t just less coverage. It’s that they risk losing coverage or they can’t get coverage when they’re unhealthy, particularly in the individual market. McCain’s proposal does nothing to provide that kind of broader health security.”

AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman joined Hickey and Hacker on a conference call with reporters today and announced details of a new campaign to explain the devastating effects of Sen. McCain’s health care plan to millions of voters nationwide. The AFL-CIO campaign will include a massive national canvass to 200,000 union households on Saturday, May 17.

“While those with pre-existing conditions simply will have an even harder time finding health care than they do now, insurance companies — and John McCain’s friends who lobby for them — stand to make a killing,” said Ackerman. “Working families need a fresh vision and new direction to turn around our country. So far, Sen. McCain has provided neither. We’re working hard to make sure Sen. McCain hears the voices of working families.”

In early March, the AFL-CIO launched a major effort to educate voters about Sen. McCain’s economic record and plans, pressuring him at every campaign event he holds, including this week’s health care events in Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado. In the coming weeks, the AFL-CIO will focus on 13 million union voters in 23 battleground states, educating them on exactly who stands to benefit from Sen. McCain’s health care proposals, communicating with voters at the worksite, the doorstep, on the phone, through the mail and online.

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HEALTH CARE COSTS BACKGROUND

$11,765 Average premium cost of the most popular employer-based plan last year
[Kaiser Family Foundation]
$5,000 Tax credit for a family under the McCain plan
[johnmccain.com]
$6,765 Average additional yearly cost per family under the McCain plan
[Campaign for America’s Future]
$3,226 Average amount per worker employers paid for premiums last year
[Kaiser Family Foundation]