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Economists critique candidates’ healthcare plans

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WASHINGTON The journal Health Affairs published two critiques by economists Tuesday that cast doubt on John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s healthcare plans.

McCain’s plan would treat health insurance provided through employers as taxable wages and instead give them tax breaks to buy their own insurance, while Obama would use government subsidies to provide insurance for people who can’t afford it themselves.

But the economists said that McCain’s plan would cause 20 million to lose their health insurance through employers as the employers stopped offering it. He would offer $2,500 tax breaks for individuals and $5,000 breaks for families, but rising premiums would negate the benefits, and the individual insurance that people bought wouldn’t provide the same coverage as workplace insurance.

They also said Obama’s subsidies would be fiscally and politically unsustainable, and adding third-party subsidies would drive up healthcare inflation. Also, Obama’s requirement that large businesses help subsidize health insurance would cause pay cuts or job losses.

To conduct the study, the authors had each plan analyzed by someone who favored the other plan.

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