McCain’s health care ‘plan’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

To say that John McCain has a health care “plan” is to sug­gest that the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee has hud­dled with a bunch of ex­perts and “stake­hold­ers” to come up with a so­lu­tion that guar­an­tees some­thing for ev­ery­body. In­stead, Mr. McCain’s approach to health care re­form is sim­i­lar to Ron­ald Rea­gan’s view of gov­ern­ment: It flows from a be­lief that more com­pe­ti­tion, free­dom and greater in­di­vid­ual choice will lead to more in­no­va­tion, greater op­por­tu­nity and in­creased well-be­ing.

First, Mr. McCain will sub­sti­tute the dic­tates of gov­ern­ment with de­ci­sions of doc­tors and pa­tients by shift­ing the tax breaks and buy­ing power now re­served for large cor­po­ra­tions and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and ex­tend­ing it ev­ery in­di­vid­ual. That would be ac­com­plished by giv­ing peo­ple the chance to take a $5,000 tax credit for health in­sur­ance costs and com­bine it with a tax-free health sav­ings ac­count.

Sec­ond, Mr. McCain would make it eas­ier (and hope­fully cheaper) to buy health care and de­sign cov­er­age to meet fam­ily needs by al­low­ing busi­nesses and non­prof­its other than in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to of­fer cov­er­age. Peo­ple would be free to pur­chase in­sur­ance and seek out care any­where from any­one meet­ing cer­tain ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dards. Providers would in­clude re­tail health ser­vices such as Min­uteClinic, COSTCO, banks, in­vest­ment com­pa­nies, hospi­tal or health com­pa­nies such as Well­point, Hu­mana or on­line ser­vices such as Revo­lu­tion Health, Google Health, etc. Gov­ern­ment’s role would be to set some stan­dards of trans­parency, sol­vency, etc. as new providers of health care money man­agers and ser­vice co­or­di­na­tors who can op­er­ate na­tion­ally take place.

Third, Mr. McCain would turn treat­ing and pre­vent­ing dis­ease into en­ter­prise to be re­warded in the mar­ket­place from an ac­tiv­ity that in­sur­ance com­pa­nies avoid cov­er­ing. The press has de­scribed Mr. McCain’s state-based guar­an­teed ac­cess plan as high-risk in­sur­ance pools for peo­ple who couldn’t get cov­er­age oth­er­wise be­cause of a pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion. In fact, Mr. McCain thinks of them as mar­ket­places where con­sumers (or buy­ing groups) with risk-ad­justed dol­lars be­hind them re­flect­ing their ill­nesses, are able to pur­chase self-de­signed plans, ser­vices, etc., based on price, per­for­mance, con­ve­nience. In­deed, on­line ver­sions of such mar­kets (www.carol.com) have al­ready been es­tab­lished in Min­neapo­lis.

Fi­nally, wounded war­riors would no longer have to go through a hu­mil­i­at­ing six-month as­sess­ment be­fore re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits. An ac­count with a swipe card would guar­an­tee them ac­cess and en­try to the world’s finest re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and coun­sel­ing pro­grams or to ex­ist­ing VA fa­cil­i­ties based on need, qual­ity and price. Dol­lars would fol­low in­di­vid­ual need, not lob­by­ists or bu­reau­crats.

Amer­i­cans ex­pect and seek choice, qual­ity, con­ve­nience and dig­nity in ev­ery other im­por­tant de­ci­sion shap­ing their lives. Health care should be no dif­fer­ent.

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