WASHINGTON BUREAU — The White House is expressing a willingness to consider a Senate proposal that could impose a tax on high-end health insurance plans as a means of helping to pay for health system reform.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Tuesday that the Senate Finance Committee is looking into the possibility of taxing insurers and employers that provide “Cadillac plans” that are valued at more than $25,000 a year.
Conrad said there could be regional variations on the cap.
In response, President Obama said he may be open to such a tax.
“I haven’t seen the details of this yet, but it may be an approach that doesn’t put additional burdens on middle-class families,” Obama said on a news show.
The president would not support a total exclusion of such plans, as proposed during the 2008 presidential campaign by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday during a press briefing.
President Obama said during several appearances Tuesday that any health insurance reform program must include a mandate for insurers to cover pre-existing conditions–something the industry has already agreed to do.
Regarding insurers, Gibbs said the president will continually say during the next several weeks that “basic insurance reforms” must be included in health care reform legislation.