Well, last night’s primaries didn’t resolve anything, at least on the Democratic side. Senator Obama has a lead in delegates, while Senator Clinton has new momentum.
The Republican contest was officially resolved, with Senator John McCain taking his party’s nominations. In a very timely fashion, Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic investigates McCain’s health policy platform.
The title says it all: “Mack the Quack: The disaster that is McCain’s health policy.”
It actually starts out recognizing that McCain was once “in the vanguard of the health care debate,” supporting the HMO Patients’ Bill of Rights and importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. “But that debate has changed significantly since then, from simply protecting consumers to overhauling the entire system. So the question is: What type of reform would he be willing to swallow in this much more ambitious moment?”
Unfortunately, McCain’s plan could actually have us go backwards–having more people try to get coverage in the individual insurance market, where they have the least bargaining power with the big insurers, and which is as a result the least efficient, most expensive way to get coverage.
As Cohn points out, someone with McCain’s medical history would not be able to buy coverage on the individual market, because his skin cancer would be a “pre-existing condition.”
Cohn notes that McCain’s subsidies don’t have any proposed financing to back them up, unlike the Clinton and Obama plans, and makes other comparisons with his likely rivals. He even compares their ideas pay-for-performance plans to improve the quality of care.
One note Cohn doesn’t make. One hard-right aspect of McCain’s plan (McClintock is sponsoring a similar proposal in the California Senate) that hits home to Californians is to allow insurers to sell across products across state lines. In effect, this eviscerates state consumer protections, including the relatively stronger oversight provided by California, since insurers would all go to sell from a state that provides little or no protections. Imagine trying to complain to the Alabama Department of Insurance about being denied for coverage.
McCain, undoes the goodwill he garnered being supportive of some consumer protections (as Cohn indicates) as a legislator with his proposals of what he would do as an executive.