Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McCain on Health Care

John McCain offers some not-so-straight talk on health care. Hillary Clinton gets it right:
In a statement, Clinton said McCain's plan has "fundamental flaws" and charged that it would abandon millions of Americans to expensive, high-risk insurance arrangements. "Older Americans or those with pre-existing conditions would be allowed to get only one type of coverage in a high risk GAP pool," Clinton said. "That kind of arrangement does more to help insurers than individuals."
McCain's "plan" basically involves ending employer-sponsored health insurance (i.e., effectively ending group insurance coverage), then handing you a subsidy ("a $5,000 family tax credit") too small to provide you or your family with good, comprehensive insurance coverage. The type that elites like John McCain and Newt Gingrich apparently believe should be reserved to people like themselves.

If McCain were interested in being honest about this, he would admit that he is catering to two powerful special interest groups: Industry lobbyists who see that, even with tax breaks, health insurance is becoming too costly to offer as an employee benefit. And, of course, health insurance industry lobbyists who don't want a national plan to "compete" with their offerings - because to date, in order to "compete" with programs like Medicare private insurers have required massive subsidies.

McCain's proposal for people like himself, who (if given a choice) insurers wouldn't touch?
McCain sought to answer those charges Tuesday by saying he would create what he called a guaranteed access plan, or GAP, to help provide coverage of last resort for the sick and other "high-risk" people until the marketplace has matured enough to take care of them.
Let's compare that idea to Michigan's reality, where within the existing private market,
The Blues argue that as insurers of last resort they have to cover the sickest patients and take the most risk. Other firms, they argue, can dump their customers by raising their premiums to unaffordable levels and stick the Blues with them.
McCain's proposal for keeping this from happening with his newly created guaranteed health insurance plan for the uninsurable? He doesn't have one. Candidate McCain, how would this program work? How would it be financed?
He gave few details of how such a program would work, who would run it or how it would be financed.
Oh, let me throw out an idea for financing it, consistent with McCain's stated economic policy - we'll have indefinite war in Iraq, slash taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and pay for everything else with the savings that result.
McCain advisers said such a program could cost as much as $7 billion a year. But McCain vowed not to "create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control." He added: "Nor will I saddle states with another unfunded mandate."
Sure... because as the private health insurance markets insure, private companies will suddenly become willing to take a massive loss by providing individual health insurance policies to people presently deemed uninsurable. Why, isn't that exactly what is happening in our current "free market" system? I suspect that if the "guaranteed" plans for uninsurable people become a reality, $7 billion will look like a bargain. We switch from the current system, replete with delays and denials of care, and the cancellation of policies for specious reasons, to one where the policy holder deemed "too expensive" is simply handed off to the government plan - or quits the private plan in favor of the government plan to avoid the bureaucracy, delays, and specious denials of care.

But McCain says he won't let the unknown costs of his undefined program "get out of control", so who am I to question his claims?

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