MS. NOVOTNY: Let's take a look at John McCain's remedy. The McCain plan would give families the option of using employer-based coverage or up to $5,000 in tax credits to help people pay for their own plan. The McCain plan would expand health savings accounts to help families save money on medical care. He's also proposing to lower healthcare costs through more competition in drug markets.
New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson is a John McCain supporter. She joins us now.
Congresswoman, Barack Obama is promising access to health insurance for every American. John McCain's plan doesn't necessarily do that. Why is McCain's plan better?
REP. WILSON: Well, I think it does improve access for Americans by giving a refundable tax credit, whether you're a family or an individual. That is a huge benefit to go out and let patients choose the insurance they want.
The big difference between Obama's approach, a big government approach and what McCain has proposed is that it puts the patient in charge and goes after healthcare costs. It doesn't matter who is paying the bill; a small business who is trying to afford insurance or an individual if costs continue to escalate, and I think McCain's plan does better at controlling those costs by putting consumers back --
MS. NOVOTNY: Let's talk about the costs with this plan, Senator McCain offering a $5,000 tax credit for families who want to buy their own plan, and yet, there are people who are concerned that that won't be enough to cover a family. Apparently, it costs employers an average of $12,000 a year to insure a family of four; that's according to the National Coalition on Healthcare.
Is there a concern that while $5,000 is a lot of money, healthcare costs are so high these days that it just might not be enough?
REP. WILSON: In New Mexico, that buys a very good plan for a family and the whole point is you've also got to control the costs of healthcare, which means putting patients back in the driver's seat with their doctors. In areas where consumers make choices like elective plastic surgery, chiropractic care, eyeglasses, hearing aids, the inflation rate for healthcare is much lower than it is for things covered by insurance. We need to get trial lawyers to control the cost of malpractice insurance. That's in McCain's plan, and also improving the health status of Americans. About 70 percent of the cost of healthcare is for controlling chronic disease that 20 percent of the people suffer from.
If we don't get after controlling chronic disease, we'll continue to see an escalation of healthcare costs and nobody will be able to afford it.
MS. NOVOTNY: And we know both candidates have said they want to focus on prevention, that's important, obviously, for all Americans.
REP. WILSON: But the difference is another big government program like we've seen with Medicaid doesn't address those fundamental problems. It just shifts who pays for disease. We need to prevent problems, not just pay for incidence of disease.
MS. NOVOTNY: And so how does Senator McCain pay for his healthcare plan?
REP. WILSON: Well, there's a couple of things. We're putting consumers back in direct contact in making decisions. Health savings accounts is a great example where you're making a decision about, you know, do I go in tonight to the emergency room? Or do I wait for urgent care to open in the morning? Because there is a direct cost to me as a consumer. Do I -
MS. NOVOTNY: But if you're talking about $5,000 per family, per credit --
REP. WILSON: Health savings accounts are actually directly -- you set aside an account where it comes out of your account every time you pay for something, and it actually puts consumers back in control of healthcare decisions. Health savings accounts, which over six million Americans have now, a quarter of those Americans, were not insured before and the rates of insurance are actually going down. Anybody else know of somewhere where your insurance costs have gone down over the last two years? And it's because consumers are back in the position of making decisions about their care.
MS. NOVOTNY: Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico. We appreciate your time. Thank you.
REP. WILSON: Thank you.