Top health insurance executives would see their own pocketbooks targeted under a new proposal from Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).

Lincoln, a centrist Democrat up for reelection in 2010 whose vote has been assiduously courted by both sides of the healthcare debate, announced on Friday an amendment she'll offer with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) seeking to limit insurance executives' pay.

The amendment would not set healthcare executives' pay levels, but would reduce a de facto subsidy for their salaries by cutting the amount of money insurers are able to write off as tax deductions per each executive's salary.


Under current law, companies can claim up to $1 million per executive in annual write-offs. The Lincoln proposal would reduce the write-off to $400,000, the same annual salary as the president draws. According to Lincoln, the bill would also save $651 million in revenue over the next 10 years.

"This is a fair policy aimed at encouraging health insurance companies to put premium dollars toward lower rates and more affordable coverage, not in the pocketbooks of their executives," Lincoln said. "I am proud of this proposal, which will reassure American consumers and taxpayers that health insurance executives aren’t receiving a personal windfall – and that the companies they work for are not receiving excessive tax breaks."

The measure has arguably equal symbolic importance for Lincoln, who's been accused of being too close to insurers by some liberal groups over her reluctance to sign onto a bill containing a public option.

The amendment will likely be introduced over the next few days, and appears to have the backing of Democratic leaders in the Senate, who promoted Lincoln and Lautenberg's press conference on Friday to announce the amendment.