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Likely Voters Shun Taation Of Health Benefits

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Most Democratic and Republican voters hate the idea of the government eliminating or reducing the tax breaks that encourage employers to provide health insurance.[@@]

America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, has released polling data measuring the depth of that support for health coverage tax breaks in response to reports that a presidential tax reform panel wants to cap the employer deduction for health insurance expenditures at about $11,000 per employee.

“Our polling consistently shows that voters want Congress to strengthen, not weaken, tax incentives that help individuals and employers afford health care coverage,” AHIP President Karen Ignagni says in a statement.

In September, polling firms hired by AHIP surveyed 400 likely presidential primary voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina and likely presidential primary caucus goers in Iowa.

When the pollsters asked survey participants whether the statement that came closer to their view was, “We should tax health care benefits and use the additional tax revenue to reduce other taxes,” or, “We should keep health care benefits tax free to make it easier for people to hold health insurance,” at least 90% of the Republicans and 90% of the Democrats in all 3 states agreed with the second statement.

The level of strong opposition to the idea of making employees pay taxes on health benefits compensation ranged on the Republican side from 66% in Iowa to 78% in New Hampshire, and, on the Democratic side, from 70% in Iowa to 82% in New Hampshire.

Likely voters were somewhat more open to the idea of eliminating or reducing employers’ ability to deduct health benefits expenditures, but the percentage of voters who said they strongly or somewhat oppose that idea was over 60% among Democrats and Republicans in all 3 states, and the level of opposition was even stronger among Republicans than among Democrats in some states.

South Carolina voters interviewed were less likely to have health coverage than the other voters surveyed but more likely to name the “economy” as the top domestic issue rather than “health care.”