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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

McCain’s Health Plan: Radically Dangerous

It is to be profoundly hoped that health care becomes a significant issue in the balance of the presidential campaign, and that due attention is paid to John McCain’s health care plan. Here’s the conclusion of an analysis of that plan in the policy journal Health Affairs:

Achieving Senator McCain’s vision would radically transform the U.S. health insurance system. His plan would alter the nature, source, and financing of coverage for the nearly 160 million Americans who now receive health insurance through their employers. We estimate that twenty million Americans–about one in every eight people with job-based coverage–would lose their current coverage as a result of the change in the tax treatment of coverage. Initially, this loss of job-based coverage would be offset by an increase in coverage in the nongroup market (although not necessarily for the same individuals). Within five years, however, the net effect of the plan is expected to be a net reduction in coverage relative to what would have been observed if the tax treatment of employer-sponsored coverage remains as it is now. The decline of job-based coverage would force millions of Americans into the weakest segment of the private insurance system–the nongroup market–where cost sharing is high and covered services are limited. Senator McCain’s proposal to deregulate this market would mean that people in it would lose protections they now have. These changes would diminish the security of coverage for most Americans, especially those who are not–or someday will not be–in perfect health.

Be forewarned.

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