Kansas City, Mo. President Bush's trip to the Kansas City area was brief but served its purpose.
After recognizing Susan Hoskins, a volunteer with the Mid-America Medical Reserve Corps, for her work, Bush spent his afternoon talking about health care.
In his first public appearance since Tuesday night's State of the Union address, Bush used a trip to a Lee's Summit, Mo., hospital to tout his new proposal, which he says will help decrease the number of Americans without insurance.
Joined by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, Bush elaborated on his plan to provide a $7,500 tax deduction to singles and a $15,000 tax deduction to families with health insurance.
Bush administration officials say the plan will save money for many Americans who already have health insurance, and provide enough savings to entice the uninsured to buy their own coverage. The legislation, though, faces uncertain prospects in the Democrat-controlled Congress.
Several House leaders, including the chairman of the health subcommittee, have cast doubts on the viability of the president's proposal.
Bud Hunt, owner of local construction company Hunt Inc., said he's provided insurance to his employees since the 1990s. As his company prepares to renew its contract in the next month, he and his employees have struggled to balance increased costs with adequate coverage.
"Keeping costs low is important when you're bidding against other companies," he said.
Hunt doesn't like the president's proposal, as he said it wouldn't really accomplish much. The higher costs Hunt faces would not be reduced under the president's legislation.
Joe Reitz, CEO of the LEO Center, said he was glad to see any sort of proposal that would address the lack of health care among Americans - particularly those in Lawrence. The area has about 14,000 uninsured individuals, Reitz said, many of whom visit his organization. The LEO Center provides a variety of services to low-income people, including immediate medical care.
And while Reitz supports Bush's proposal, he's not optimistic it will be enacted any time soon.
"It's complicated enough that it's going to take a long time to sort out," Reitz said. "From my standpoint, we can't wait for government to fix it."
Reitz said a problem with the proposal is that it doesn't address the troubles that come with increased access to health care, particularly the need to provide funding for more physicians and other health care professionals. Reitz also questioned whether the majority of the clients he sees even make enough money to qualify for the tax breaks that the Bush proposal provides.
In order to qualify for tax relief, a person must make enough to trigger income tax payments. Those who don't pay income taxes would see a decrease in their payroll taxes, though likely not enough to make insurance affordable.
According to the Bush administration and an analysis by The Tax Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., about 80 percent of those with employer-provided health care would see their taxes cut, while 20 percent would see their taxes increase.
Those with the most generous health care plans would see their taxes increase. A family of four making $80,000 - with an insurance plan valued at $20,000 - would pay an additional $1,500.