The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


McCain's Health Care Proposal

Setting a different course from both the Democrats and his fellow Republicans on health care, Arizona Senator John McCain will propose offering tax credits of up to $5,000 for all U.S. families that get health insurance in a speech in Des Moines tomorrow.

His proposal, while more comprehensive than what the other GOP candidates have offered, does not create universal health coverage or mandate that everyone buy insurance. Those are elements of plans that Sen. Hillary Clinton and former North Carolina senator John Edwards have introduced in this campaign and similar to a plan Mitt Romney adopted as governor of Massachusetts.

"In health care, we believe in enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care," McCain will say, according to speech excepts provided by his staff. "We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs."

One of McCain's biggest focuses is on reducing costs. He distances himself from the Bush administration by calling for large-scale re-importation of prescription drugs from abroad, which the White House has long opposed on the grounds that the U.S. cannot guarantee the safety of such drugs. The tax credits from McCain also differ from the proposals offered by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who would allow people to exclude up to $15,000 of their income if it was spent on health care. In the Giuliani proposal, unlike McCain's, the size of the tax credit depends on income and would be smaller for people who pay little or no income taxes. McCain would offer a $2500 tax credit for individuals.

McCain aides did not provide estimates about how much this proposal would cost or how many of the 45 million Americans who currently do not have insurance would find it more affordable under this proposal. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care group, the average plan for a family of four costs more than $12,000, although McCain aides noted that much cheaper plans are available. They also noted that other changes they call for, such as reforms that reduce the number of medical lawsuits, would help bring down costs.

McCain would fund the proposal in by part by ending a provision in the tax code that allows employers to deduct the cost of health care from their taxable earnings, a practice many Democratic and Republican health care experts say unfairly rewards people who get health insurance from their workplace. Both Clinton and President Bush have proposed versions of this idea as well.

--Perry Bacon Jr.

Posted at 6:33 PM ET on Oct 10, 2007
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DrColes, no offense, but is this the same Capitalistic system that has produced $3.00+ gas in America even when the price of a barrel of oil goes down? Why is it that every gas pump in a given city has the same price? Why is it that the premiums for health insurance is rising at four times any inflation rate in the last decade. I am sorry but the Capitalist model is like a two wheeled car with a flat tire, why? Because it just doesn't work, there is no competition in medicine. If there were, statistics and performance resumes would be publish and advertised by Doctors, clincs, and hospitals. It doesn't happen, because there is no competition, no capitalist agenda in the medical world.

Posted by: oren1956 | October 12, 2007 9:23 PM

I think, as someone also from Arizona, that the Senator is out of touch with reality. He looks at his own Supplimented Senate Health Care Coverage and thinks that it is what is available to everyone. Get a grip McCain, your proposal does nothing for those who are cronically ill nor does it provide an opportunity for those who can not afford health insurance under the present defunct system. To tell the truth, I have not seen a plan from either the Republicans or the Democrats that provide an answer for the gnarling problem of health care in this country. So far, every proposal has been too timid, too indifferent to do anything except inflate the profits of Insurance Companies. This whole problem is in fact directly attributable to the K Street affect.

Posted by: oren1956 | October 12, 2007 9:01 PM

Why is it that certain people in our society claim that government will be controlling who we get to see for medical care? Universal coverage is by no means an HMO! Why can't my government go to Blue Cross or AIG or any other player in health insurance and say "Hey I've got 47 million new customers that are willing to pay some kind of premium." Do the math, even at $5.00, it works out to $235 Million a month and out to $2.8 Billion a year! With that kind of money coming in I'm sure insurance companies can cover everyone, even pre-existing. More people using health care facilities and now we have more demand and competitive pricing from medical care providers. Wow what a concept lower medical care costs because we have thousands more that can now use medical services. WORKS FOR ME! THINK AMERICA!

Posted by: jrod275 | October 11, 2007 7:23 PM

Senator McCain get guaranteed health care for life from the government without spending a dime of his own money. Hillary Clinton has proposed letting Americans spend their own money to participate in the same health plan that Senator McCain enjoys and he decries it as "socialized medicine". If that isn't hypocrisy I dont know what is!

Posted by: MarcMyWords | October 11, 2007 6:43 PM

A problem with all Republicans is that they put business profits ahead of the welfare of America, which is why they deride and privitize the U.S. Government. For all to have their health care needs met, for-profit insurance companies must be excluded. They increase profits by denying care, so people that can't afford insurance and many with pre-existing conditions die prematurely and the rest are fleeced.

To All: Don't listen to Republican propaganda on Fox News or Rush, and vote wisely. Both major parties are flawed, but one far more than the other.

Posted by: owens1 | October 11, 2007 3:17 PM

All of the proposals appear to be pandering to the insurance industry and AMA to guarantee their free lunch program. The bottom line is simple: NO ONE should be denied medical assistance in need, period. If you can afford a REASONABLE charge for services (which is one of the real issues in play at the moment), then pay for it; if you cannot then We the People come to your aid.

The United States seems to have resources to invade sovereign nations but cannot take care of We the People in need, including the Veterans who believed in the propaganda of "we will take care of you".

Posted by: thunderstone.hank | October 11, 2007 2:11 PM

Kids have health care. The needy already have health care. The U.S. is not a socialist state. The government caused the problem with health care in America by over socializing medicine to the extent it is not completive, and we want to exacerbate the problem? U.S. Capitalism refers to an economic system in which the means of production are all owned and operated for profit, and in which investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are determined through the operation of a market economy. It is the right of individuals and groups of individuals acting as "legal persons" or corporations to trade capital goods, labor, land and money (see finance and credit). See

Posted by: DrColes | October 11, 2007 12:55 PM

What none of the Republican candidates seem to GET is that their holy 'free market' won't cover people with preexisting conditions, no matter how much money you have. Insurance is supposed to pool risks, to allow accurate actuarial forecasts of payouts. In today's world, individuals simply can't buy affordable insurance unless they are a part of a group, because the profit-driven insurance companies cherry pick the young,male, and healthy, and the rest of us are left to rot.

McCain's proposal would dump people who are able to get insurance through their employer out on their own, with no recourse. They will be uninsurable. Of course, congresscritters have the best coverage in the world, which is why they don't get it.

Posted by: sratkowski | October 11, 2007 11:50 AM

I'm from Canada, and the 2 essential components of universal healthcare are:

-mandatory coverage for all young people that work for Google. :)

-a bloody assault on the healthcare cartel, including drugs, doctors, and other workers.

If nobody has the stomach for this, I can't see it working in the US.

Posted by: hasmis | October 11, 2007 10:34 AM

Its all good for people that can afford health care: but what about the millions of people that cannot? That is the problem with healthcare- everyone needs free healthcare. That is why I support universal health coverage.

Posted by: pimpinsax666 | October 11, 2007 9:21 AM

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