From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum and Elissa Davis
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At the Families USA and Federation of American Hospitals Forum on Healthcare, McCain called for competition in the private sector to bring the cost of healthcare down. The Arizona Senator also said employers would still write off health insurance costs as a tax write-up and the same amount would be applied to the employees as a tax. However, individual employees would receive a $2,500 tax credit and families would receive a $5,000 tax credit.
The reason for this, McCain said, is akin to one of Ronald Reagan's statements, "Nobody ever washed a rental car." According to McCain, when people simply get health insurance from their employers for free, their sense of responsibility is low. With the tax credit system, McCain said people would view the credit as their own money and make more responsible choices in picking their own plans.
According to McCain's economic advisor Dan Crippen, by having a tax credit and not tax exclusion, people in the lower tax brackets would benefit greatly. He said a low income tax bracket family would end up paying $1,500 in taxes and keep the remainder of the $5,000 tax credit. People in a middle income tax credit would have their taxes offset by this tax credit. However, he added that if an employee gets more than $15,000 dollars in health insurance from his or her employer and is in the top tax bracket, he or she might have to pay some additional taxes.
McCain urged people to take care of those who need help. "We are a Judeo-Christian valued nation that says we have to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves," McCain said.
Although he calls for competition in the regular health-care market, he is still a fan of Medicaid. "As much as free marketer as I am," he said, "I want to make sure we preserve that safety net. We owe that to our seniors."
McCain also talked about informing the "young people," about the lack of funds for Medicare and Social Security. But the Arizona Senator said he would not mandate Americans to purchase health-care insurance. (On the Democratic side, Biden said the same thing last week). Instead, he called for everyone to have access to affordable health care. "I'm not going to force Americans to do it," McCain said. "I don't think that is the role of government. If we bring down the costs, … I think more and more Americans will take advantage of it."
McCain said the majority of people without health care are not necessarily without the lack of funds. "The majority of Americans who have no health insurance today are healthy Americans who choose not to," he said.
McCain also took a swipe at Clinton's healthcare plan, calling it "a movement toward government-run."
"To say nothing's going to change because we're going to give you a series of choices but every American is going to have health insurance," McCain said. "I think that certainly there will be change."