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Patel Asks House For Health Premium Tax Credit

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NU Online News Service, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. – Vip Patel, chairman of eHealthInsurance Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., was the only health insurance executive who testified today at a hearing of the full House Ways and Means Committee on the Bush administration’s proposal for health insurance premium tax credits.

Patel’s company is a Web-based health insurance broker.

Even a relatively small, $1,000 credit should be enough to help two-thirds of the uninsured get health coverage for the equivalent of less than $50 a month, Patel told the committee, according to a written version of his remarks posted on the committee Web site.

Patel also emphasized the importance of taking some action to help the uninsured, even if that action might not help all the uninsured.

“I have encountered among proponents of 100% consumer based, employer based or government-based health care plans a recurring ‘all or nothing,’ mentality,” Patel said. “If we turn away ideas because they won’t solve the problem in its entirety, there is a strong chance no one will be helped.”

Patel included state-by-state data on individual health insurance rates with his prepared remarks. The figures are based on the cost of coverage sold through the eHealthInsurance system.

Mark Weinberger, a Treasury official, included a detailed summary of the Bush administration’s health insurance tax credit proposal with his written testimony.

Representatives from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Progressive Policy Institute, two Washington think tanks, spoke against the tax credit, arguing that it would be too expensive and do more to help the rich reduce their taxes than it would to help people with low incomes buy coverage.

Ways and Means has posted the text of the participants’ prepared testimony on its Web site, at