I had my computer shut down for the night. I was going to go to bed early. Then I started reading McCain's plan over my bedtime snack. Which got me so riled up I had to boot up again and post.
I do have to give McCain credit for acknowledging one of the basic problems of the current system: the employer-provided model. I also give him credit for mentioning medical tort reform and pricing transparency. Though the statements on his website are pretty wishy-washy.
But most of the material on his website is just gloss to cover up some rather alarming parts of his plan. First of all, and this should say just about enough, it sounds to me like his plan was written by health insurance companies.
McCain wants to move away from the employer-provided system we have now, which I agree is necessary. But the way he wants to do it is going to cost individuals a heck of a lot of money and result in a heck of a lot of people going without health insurance. Which is going to put us even deeper into the problems we're in now. So, a couple observations about McCain's plan to shift health insurance off employers:
1) he wants to tax the imputed income (the amount the employer pays for the employees insurance) The result of this is that younger, healthier employees will opt out, leaving the older employees, and dramatically increasing the employer's cost to insure them. Thus employers will be discontinuing health insurance as an employee benefit, or they'll be requiring employees to pick up a greater proportion of the cost.
2) when employers discontinue insuring employees, McCain says they'll be able to go out into the private market and purchase their own insurance. He says the government will give a tax credit to help reimburse the cost. This is a rewarmed Bush plan from one of the two previous elections, isn't it? Tax credits will never come close to reimbursing the cost of private insurance. Worse yet, what happens to the older employees with chronic or pre-existing conditions? This is an insurance company's DREAM. These employees get knocked off their employer's insurance, where they have to be covered, sending them out into the private market, where insurance companies can DENY them coverage or charge them sky-high premiums (even while disallowing benefits for pre-existing conditions). McCain says they'll be covered by "Guaranteed Access Programs" -- a warm, fuzzy-sounding name for what are usually called "high-risk" pools. Well, guess what, many states have been discontinuing these programs or limiting enrollment because of high costs. And even if they are "guaranteed access" they'll still have to pay the astronomical premiums.
3) McCain says he can lower health-care costs through "common-sense initiatives." Well, he's not specific about what those are, and isn't that what every candidate, their brothers, and their mothers have been promising each and every election and we can see how well that's worked out. Folks, he doesn't have a clue how to lower health-care costs, and if he lets the insurance companies come up with his ideas, like he did for health insurance "portability" (a fancy name for buying your own insurance) then we're all double-screwed.
So while McCain's plan has a number of noble-sounding catch-phrases in it: "restore control to the individual", "easier to obtain insurance", "reform the tax code", "portability", "guaranteed access" they all mean basically: you're going to have to go shopping for your own insurance, pay for it out of your own pocket, and if you're not in perfect health you're either going to end up uninsured or broke. This plan is a bonanza and a windfall for health insurance companies, and we all know how badly they need the extra income, don't we? So their poor, underpaid CEOs will have enough money to retire on.
I'm really disgusted.