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Congressman advances health care debate with alternative plan

Janesville Congressman Paul Ryan is one of the leading forces behind a Republican health care alternative introduced Wednesday.

It's much like the plan John McCain spelled out when he ran for president last year.

Employer-provided health plans would be fully taxed for the first time, while employees would get tax credits of up to $5,700 a year for families.

They could buy their own private insurance with it, and put some of it in health savings accounts for their future care.

What that basically does is shift the $300 billion tax break for employee health costs from companies to the workers themselves.

Lower-income people would get supplemental health funding, and coverage would be guaranteed for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

States would provide one-stop shopping and consumer protections through exchange systems.

Ryan says it would ensure health coverage for all Americans without increasing the national debt and it gives consumers more choices for their care.

But Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, calls the Ryan plan crazy.

She says it taxes people who are not necessarily rich. And she favors a government-run health system.

Democrats are hashing out ways to pay for that and lesser care alternatives.

Some of the funding ideas include new taxes on beer, wine, and sugared sodas - higher prescription drug premiums for seniors - and government health insurance system.