McCain Details Proposal To Expand Health Care Insurance, Reduce Costs
Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday at the Des Moines, Iowa, chapter of Rotary International announced details of his health care proposal, which seeks to expand health insurance to more U.S. residents and reduce costs, the Des Moines Register reports.
Among other provisions, the proposal would:
- Revise the Medicare reimbursement system to pay providers for diagnosis, prevention and care coordination but not for preventable medical errors or mismanagement (Witosky, Des Moines Register, 10/12);
- Require pharmaceutical companies and health care providers to make their prices available to patients;
- Promote efforts to improve the treatment of chronic diseases;
- Promote the market entry of lower-cost generic medications and biotechnology treatments and establish a system to allow safe prescription drug reimportation (Santora, New York Times, 10/12); and
- Promote retail health clinics (Pearson, Chicago Tribune, 10/12).
In addition, the proposal would provide tax credits of $2,500 to lower-income individuals and $5,000 to lower-income families to help them purchase private health insurance. Under the proposal, residents could purchase health insurance in any state through organizations, associations, employers or health insurers. The proposal would not require residents to obtain health insurance (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 10/11).
McCain did not estimate the cost of the proposal but said he would end a provision in the tax code that allows employers to deduct the cost of health insurance to help pay for the plan (New York Daily News, 10/12). In addition, McCain said that he would seek to enact legislation to eliminate frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits and excessive damage awards to help reduce costs.
McCain said that the "genuinely conservative" proposal "preserves the most essential value of American lives -- freedom" (Des Moines Register, 10/12). According to McCain, the proposal seeks to promote "paying only for quality medical care, having insurance choices that are diverse and responsive to individual needs and restoring our sense of personal responsibility" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/11). He added, "You worry about the uninsured, but they are a symptom of a larger problem. Unless you do something about cost, you are chasing your proverbial tail" (New York Times, 10/12).
McCain also criticized the health care proposals of Democratic presidential candidates as attempts at a "one-size-fits-all, big government takeover of health care" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/11). He said that the proposal recently announced by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) is "eerily" similar to the plan she proposed in the 1990s. He added, "I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig" (New York Times, 10/12).
According to the Democratic National Committee, the McCain proposal would not reduce costs significantly or extend health insurance to a significant number of residents. In addition, the proposal would "gut" laws in 44 states that require health insurers to cover emergency care, direct access to obstetricians and gynecologists, and other services, DNC said (CQ HealthBeat, 10/12).
"Riding low in the polls, it seems, has allowed" McCain to "take some policy risks," and his health care proposal displays the "political creativity that animated his presidential bid in 2000," a Wall Street Journal editorial states. McCain "comes out on top" among Republican presidential candidates on the issue of health insurance regulation because he would allow residents to "purchase policies across state lines," according to the editorial.
In addition, although McCain "takes a false regulatory lunge when he says he wants prescription drug reimportation ... he's on firmer ground when he emphasizes medical malpractice reform," the editorial states.
McCain also is the only Republican candidate to "confront America's runaway entitlement spending" through the replacement of "Medicare's creaking fee-for-service model" with a system in which health care providers receive reimbursements based on performance, the editorial states. According to the editorial, the proposal would "leave the beneficiary structure intact," but revisions to the "payment architecture could be used as a lever to move Medicare toward a defined-contribution health care model."
The editorial adds that the proposal "solidifies the intellectual progress conservatives have made" on health care (Wall Street Journal, 10/12).