President Bushs new proposal to make private health insurance more affordable wont do anything to help those who are already in low tax brackets and who have limited incomes, said Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. The proposal seeks to reform the tax code with a standard deduction for health insurance, leveling the field for those who purchase health insurance on their own rather than through their employers. It also would lower taxes for currently uninsured Americans who decide to buy health insurance. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said the proposal will result in lower taxes for about 80% of workers with employer-based health insurance. Critics said the remaining 20% -- whose health insurance costs more than the standard deduction --would see a tax increase. This proposal will hurt middle-income Americans, whose employers will shift even more cost and risk to their employees, said Stark, who added that he wont hold hearings on the proposal. The proposal, which HHS says is budget-neutral over the next 10 years, also would direct federal funds to states to help poor and hard-to-insure citizens afford private insurance. -- by Jennifer Lubell
Stark knocks Bush insurance plan
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