WONK ROOM: McCain’s Answer on Health Care Question Ignores Americans Struggling with Pre-Existing Conditions, Highlights Problems with His Plan
WASHINGTON, DC—When asked if health care was a “right” or a “responsibility” at last night’s presidential debate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “I think it’s a responsibility”:
BROKAW: Quick discussion. Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility? Sen. McCain?
MCCAIN: I think it’s a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member. And with the plan that — that I have, that will do that. But government mandates I — I’m always a little nervous about. But it is certainly my responsibility. It is certainly small-business people and others, and they understand that responsibility. American citizens understand that. Employers understand that.
McCain’s answer should make voters “a little nervous” because, as a life-long recipient of government sponsored health insurance, McCain knows very little about taking responsibility for purchasing insurance in the individual market.
In fact, McCain’s past medical history would likely prevent him from purchasing individual coverage, even if he wanted the extra “responsibility.” As Elizabeth Edwards pointed out earlier this year, “insurers will disqualify you for just taking certain medicines because of the possibility of future costs, including common drugs as Lipitor, Zocor, Nexium, and Advair. People who have had cancer are denied coverage and those who get cancer run the risk of simply being dropped by their insurer for any excuse that can be found.”
As a four-time cancer survivor in his early 70s, McCain would be hard-pressed to find affordable health insurance in the individual health market and would join the millions of “responsible” Americans who, despite their best efforts, are denied coverage.
Beneath McCain’s empty platitudes and contradictory assurances — he argued that his health care plan would provide affordable health care to “every American citizen” but also suggested that obtaining and retaining affordable health insurance was the “responsibility” of the individual — is a health care philosophy that ultimately seeks to transfer the risk and costs of insurance onto the individual: you bear all the risk and pay all of the cost.
As McCain admitted during a town hall in June, “if that money [for health care] is coming out of your pocket, you would be more careful about it.”