Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another McMyth: The McCain Health Care Plan

When reading certain blogs and forums I have identified four basic reasons that some Clinton supporters refuse to support Senator Obama. First, he was not democratically chosen. Second, he hasn’t officially become the nominee. Third, he doesn’t have enough experience. Fourth, a vote for Obama is a vote for sexism. Underlying all of these reasons is a myth that John McCain is moderate enough on the issues.

This week, I wrote a piece on the very real danger that John McCain poses to the Supreme Court and atdnext debunked the myth that John McCain is pro-choice.

Today, I’m going to focus on an issue that disproportionately affects those most marginalized in society, those whom Hillary Clinton described as “invisible” to the ruling class. Today’s post is about the uninsured:
The reality, however, is that only a minority of the uninsured are either the typical Redbook reader or that nice shopkeeper down the street. Two-thirds of those without health insurance are poor or near poor, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And there are clear disparities in how different racial and ethnic groups are affected. Only 13 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans is uninsured, compared with 36 percent of Hispanics, 33 percent of Native Americans, 22 percent of blacks and 17 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders.

John McCain’s health care is available on his website. Several news sources— MSNBC, The New York Times, and CNN—covered John McCain’s health plan when he released it in October 2007. These are the uses I have used for my analysis.

In an interview with NPR, John McCain made it clear that he just doesn’t get it:
"The problem is not that most Americans lack adequate health insurance — the vast majority of Americans have private insurance, and our government spends billions each year to provide even more," McCain has said. "The biggest problem with the American health care system is that it costs too much."

John McCain’s health care plan emphasizes using the private sector to lower health care costs and tax credits to provide buyers with more purchasing power. He would provide buyers with a $2500 refundable tax credit to “low-income” individuals to purchase their own insurance and $5000 for “low-income” families. Note that this won’t help families who have insurance from the employers but have significant gaps in their coverage.

In reforming the private sector, John McCain claims that allowing people to buy insurance across state lines will increase competition and lowers costs, but Slate argues that insurance companies would then move their operations to states that had weak consumer protect laws.

He would also lower costs by emphasizing more preventive care and better treatment for chronic illnesses. To that end, he even suggests linking Medicare and Medicaid payments to doctors to their performance in treating disease. As if doctors weren’t already motivated to treat their patients to the best of their ability?

While Barack Obama would not allow companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, John McCain’s free market would not force companies to accept everybody. As Elizabeth Edwards once said:
Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Democratic presidential contender John Edwards, said she and John McCain have one thing in common: “Neither one of us would be covered by his health policy.”

Put short, McCain’s plan involves tax credits and deregulation. He does not require the medical insurance industry to cover anybody. He will not support health care mandates for children. In fact, he supported President Bush’s veto of the expansion of a health insurance program for poor children. Just for fun, he even throws in a little more tort reform. Most importantly, universal coverage isn’t even a goal for John McCain. To John McCain, health care is still a privilege, rather than a human right.

Senator Obama would go much further, requiring businesses either to provide insurance or contribute to a public fund for the uninsured. He would also create a public nonprofit plan for the uninsured to compete with the private plans. And under President Obama’s plan, covering children would be mandatory.

Many of us—including Paul Krugman—are justifiably angry about Senator Obama’s attacks on Hillary’s health care plan. Although Prof. Krugman may well be right when he argued that Senator Obama undermined the chances for reform when he attacked Senator Clinton’s—and Senator Edwards’s—health care plan, is the most appropriate response for those of us who embraced her health care plan to turn to the man who supported President Bush’s veto of the legislation to expand health coverage to poor, uninsured children?

My view on this issue is guided by Senator Clinton who best articulated her position in South Carolina in January:
I think that the whole idea of universal health care is such a core Democratic principle that I am willing to go to the mat for it. I've been there before. I will be there again. I am not giving in; I am not giving up; and I'm not going to start out leaving 15 million Americans out of health care.

Hillary will do whatever it takes. Will you be there with her?


Lin said...

good post pd. Glad to see you here.

DCDemocrat said...

When I was working for Hillary, I allowed the experience issue to burn in my craw. I now believe I was blinded by my desire to see Hillary become the nominee: Clearly, Obama has extensive and substantive experience as a legislator, a lawyer, and an activist.

Student Guy said...

very nicely done, as I say in my places I like section, you 5 bring good writing.

Student Guy said...


This is off-topic and address to drew, he asked about the McCain optimization eariler and I want him to know that there is success: from a diary on myDD (this was on Tuesday):

for John McCain:
#24 CBS Defending Iraq policy
#29 Mother Jones 100 years in Iraq
#37 AOL Filibuster minimum wage
#43 LA Times Defending Nafta
#44 USA Today Overturn Roe V Wade
#51 Salon Opposing GI bill
#55 CNN Opposing expanding SCHIP
#126 Seattle Times Social Security

for McCain
#18 CBS News Defending Iraq policy (al right an article in the top 20)
#39 LA Times Defending Nafta
#40 MSNBC lobbyists create policies
#45 Seattle Times Social Security
#51 AOL Filibuster Minimum Wage
#67 Salon Opposing GI Bill

DCDemocrat said...

studentguy: What a pleasure for you to drop by and visit us. I am Beltway Dem at MyDD.

Student Guy said...

DC Dem the pleasure is mine. You have a good blog here.

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