McCain's Healthcare For America

Yesterday in Des Moines, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain unveiled a comprehensive healthcare plan that McCain says emphasizes personal responsibility, lowers costs, improves quality and eliminates a bias toward employer based health insurance plans by providing every one with a refundable $2500 (individual) to $5000 (family) tax credit as incentive to purchase personal insurance.

“The biggest problem with the American health care system is that it costs too much,” said McCain. “We are approaching a ‘perfect storm’ of problems that if not addressed by the next president, will cause our health care system to implode.”

McCain says he has a “genuinely conservative vision for healthcare reform” and that includes “enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care.”

In a conference call yesterday morning, McCain senior policy advisors Doug Holtz-Eakin and Dan Crippen spoke with reporters on the long-term healthcare overhaul. The plan promotes preventative medicine and competition between providers and alternative treatments to distinguish itself from other healthcare plans being touted by candidates — just four months before the February primary election.

Polls show that healthcare is the number two issue in America to date and presidential candidates have been scrambling to sell the best plan to the public, who face a future of socialized care if Republicans lose the White House (as every Democrat is promoting a federally-mandated plan.)

McCain said he is pursuing three goals with this reform: “paying only for quality medical care, having insurance choices that are diverse and responsive to individual needs, and restoring our sense of personal responsibility.”

Holtz-Eakin and Crippen both emphasized the role of “transparency” in McCain’s plan, saying more information should be publicized nationwide and that there should be “national standards” for recording that would be more easily accessible in technologically advanced, interconnected information systems. It also includes an initiative to measure the performance of doctors and potentially alter costs.

Both advisors confirmed the plan would take significant time to play out but the changes would be effective and necessary.

McCain’s plan reveals more details of planned cost controls and efficiency than any of the other top tier presidential opponents, but doesn’t estimate its costs.  Other candidates, have their own plans.  Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has said he wants to change state regulations. Romney includes a universal aspect in that every individual will be required to purchase a health insurance plan, like the plan he signed into law for Massachusetts. This is route that McCain strongly rejects. 

By offering incentive with the tax credit, McCain’s plan apparently encourages a competition and reward system that has always served free market America best.

Holtz-Eakin said the refund is a two step process that will one, “change the tax code and remove exclusion of employer sponsored insurance…[and]two, provide everyone regardless of insurance from employer or other source to receive the tax credit.”

Former New York Mayor and frontrunner Rudy Giuliani put out a plan not containing  specific cost control details and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has yet to propose a healthcare plan.

When pressed to discuss the overall costs of the initiative, McCain’s advisors wouldn’t speculate.  Crippen said the plan will “introduce a lot more competition into the market…-[and] not simply price competition but in all elements, quality outcomes of care,” and other factors. He added that just “having health insurance doesn’t guarantee access to good healthcare.”

One piece of the proposal targets veterans, noting they will be able to choose their providers. The plan will also reform Medicare payments and make patients the center of care by putting more decisions and responsibility in their hands, according to McCain’s web site.

More importantly, according to his advisors, McCain’s plan simplifies the process for individuals in several ways. The nationwide plans will allow people to cross state lines, lending much more flexibility than regional restrictions do and McCain aims to cut down on the administrative aspect of the system as well.

“It insults our common sense and dignity with excessive paperwork, disconnected visits with too many specialists, and by elaborately hiding from us any clear idea of what we are getting for our money,” said McCain of the massive bureaucracy behind healthcare today.

“Every American [will] have the opportunity to purchase insurance and efforts at deregulating insurance, making it competitive,” said Crippen. “It is built on the family as the foundation for the plan, consistent with traditional values in that way…”

CORRECTION: In the above article, there is an error. Note the following paragraph:

"Romney includes a universal aspect in that every individual will be required to purchase a health insurance plan, like the plan he signed into law for Massachusetts. This is route that McCain strongly rejects."

*This paragraph is incorrect. According to Romney’s campaign: "Rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all, government-run system, Governor Romney’s plan recognizes the importance of the role of the states in leading reform and the need for innovation in dealing with rising health care costs and the problem of the uninsured."

HUMAN EVENTS regrets the error.