WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn and other Republican lawmakers unveiled a health care reform plan Wednesday aimed at getting everyone but the elderly into a private insurance plan.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the government doesn’t "have a good track record” on most of the health care programs it runs, including Medicaid, the Indian Health Service and care for veterans. The complex proposal made by Coburn and his GOP colleagues would include a major change in the way employer-provided health insurance is treated under the tax code. It would eliminate the tax "exclusion” workers now get on their employer-provided insurance, meaning the value of the benefit would be subject to income taxes. But Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said everyone would get a tax credit that would more than make up for the loss of the exclusion. And he said eliminating it would make the tax code more fair to the self-employed and others who purchase health insurance. The plan would set up state "exchanges” in which private insurance companies would offer a variety of plans for sale. Even those currently on Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income people, would purchase plans through the exchanges, relieving states of rapidly rising Medicaid costs. Coburn, R-Muskogee, said people on Medicaid would have a much larger selection of doctors and better care if they bought private insurance plans.
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