Waiting for McCain’s Health Plan

A few weeks ago I noted that McCain has no healthcare plan. Well, he does, but it amounts to

“throw[ing] you to the market wolves–an individual health insurance market that gives the best prices to the young and healthy and sends the sick off to government-run risk pools that fall way short of giving people decent coverage.”

Elizabeth Edwards has been keeping the heat on McCain, telling us that the market wolves would devour both she and McCain under his proposa–since they both have pre-existing conditions. On Sunday McCain was pressed on this point on “This Week with George Stephanopolous”. McCain has a plan, he says: cover everyone with pre-existing conditions under a “special Medicaid Trust Fund”.

And how might that work?  At ThinkProgress’ Wonkroom Elizabeth Edwards examined his proposal:

“A recent study showed that nearly nine out of every ten people seeking individual coverage on the private insurance market never got it. Insurers will disqualify you for just taking certain medicines because of the possibility of future costs, including common drugs as Lipitor, Zocor, Nexium, and Advair. People who have had cancer are denied coverage and those who get cancer run the risk of simply being dropped by their insurer for any excuse that can be found. And insurers make it a practice to deny coverage to individuals in high risk occupations, such as firefighting, lumber work, telecom installation, and pretty much anything more risky than working in an office.

McCain opposes universal health care because he claims it represents a “big government takeover and mandates.” But yesterday, he said he would help cover people with preexisting conditions by creating a “special Medicaid trust fund.”

A “special Medicaid trust fund”? Talk about a big government takeover. Tens of millions of Americans have preexisting conditions. If he is going to expand Medicaid to cover Americans with preexisting conditions, he is talking about a massive, massive increase in the Medicaid program. He says he opposes more government involvement in health care, but his idea really would be government-run health care.”

I think she’s giving him too much credit.  For one thing, Medicaid is a means-tested program, so presumably McCain is talking about denying insurance to the millions of people with pre-existing conditions until they have spent themselves into poverty. Is that the America McCain envisions?  Sickness = poverty?  I’d like to see him take that slogan on the campaign trail.

Not only is Medicaid a poverty program; it’s an impoverished program. Services are being cut back as we speak; physicians increasingly refuse to see Medicaid patients because reimbursements are so low. As Kevin Drum observed a few weeks ago, Medicaid is the poster child for the truism that “programs for the poor are poor programs”.

This is McCain’s healthcare plan?  Its not a plan.

Still waiting.

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Filed under healthcare finance, junglenomics

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