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General Health : Government Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Obama says Mccain would cut Medicare benefits by $882 billion.
By Sue Mueller
Oct 19, 2008 - 2:19:42 PM

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Vita.min C lowers bloo.d press.ure

Sen. Barack Obama is charging that Sen. John McCain would cut $882 billion in Medicare over a decade to pay for his health care proposal, The New York Times reported Oct 18.

The McCain campaign disputed the charge which would influence elderly voters in swing states like Florida saying that the latest assault on the McCain health plan was the worse and most sustained distortion of policy in this entire campaign.

The New York Times says that Obama's new TV advertisement may mischaracterize Sen. McCain's plan because the assumptions are based on news reporting and rough estimated calculation by a partition policy group.

In the ads, Sen. Obama was quoted as saying that Sen. McCain's plan would require cuts in benefits, eligibility or both which means that more than 20 percent in Medicare benefit would be cut next year.

The newspaper says that Sen. McCain did not propose benefits. Instead Holtz-Eakin, McCain's policy adviser was cited as saying Friday that McCain would get money from a variety of changes.

Analysts say the McCain measures would save money, but it remains unknown how much and how fast the needed amount of money can be saved. And they agreed both candidates rely on estimations.

An early poll indicates that more Americans like Obama's health plan thinking their benefits would be better off under Obama's plan than McCain's plan.

One promise McCain has made is he would give tax credit of $2500 to an individual or $5,000 per family to purchase private coverage. An analyst early said that McCain's healthcare plan would result in more people losing insurance coverage while Obama's can increase the number of Americans being covered.

Katherine Swartz, a professor of health policy and economics at Harvard was cited as saying that under McCain's plan, more people could lose their health insurance and end up paying more out of pocket.

She said that tax credit is supposed to help, but it actually will make it harder for low-income people to get insured. In the current system, many low-income employees are getting insurance they could never afford on their own.

Professor Swartz was cited as saying those poor families would have to pay $8,400 a year for insurance premiums which cover a non-group plan with a deductible of at least $5,000, but the tax credit is only $5,000. This means one family needs to pay $3,400 plus the deductible before anyone can benefit from the health insurance plan.

Another drawback is that the type of coverage on the non-group market does not also cover as many services as group policies, meaning that people likely end up paying more out of pocket when they get sick. Individuals and families under McCain’s proposal would like purchase non-group plans, which often cost more and offer less services.

Swartz said McCain did promise to subsidize high risk pools with $7 to $10 billion a year, but that can only cover about 3 million people, a tiny fraction of 48 currently uninsured American people.

Under McCain's plan, Swartz and colleagues predicted that more people would end up losing insurance. Currently some 45.7 million American are uninsured.

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