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September 18, 2008

McCain’s Healthcare Plan – NOT

Tony Soltero

Despite the best efforts of our political news media to pretend otherwise, a presidential election is not a soap opera. Any presidential election is a serious and pivotal moment that determines the future direction of our country.


So, given media's obsession over banalities like The Great Lipstick Scandal, it's easy to forget that a John McCain victory this fall will have very serious and negative effects on the well-being of most American families.


The dire consequences of a potential McCain presidency are numerous – more wars, bigger deficits, more Wall Street meltdowns, less government and corporate accountability, and more Soviet-style crackdowns on our civil liberties. Not to mention a sociopathic vice-president who believes that women who get raped should pay for their own forensic investigations. We'll have essentially the same delectable bundle of treats the Bush Administration has provided us. What a deal!


But there's one rarely-discussed area in which a John McCain presidency would be utterly disastrous to American families. And that area is healthcare.


Our healthcare system has enough problems as it is – mainly in the fact that tens of millions of Americans have no insurance coverage at all. And many millions more have inadequate, bare-bones coverage that barely protects them against a hangnail.


Healthcare in America is set up to maximize the flow of money into the insurance industry, with "healing the sick" simply a sideshow. But those Americans who are fortunate enough to get decent health benefits through their employers are still doing okay with the current system.


Certainly, healthcare reform should be geared toward extending middle-class benefits to the nation's lower economic rungs. That's the approach Barack Obama proposes.


John McCain, on the other hand, wants to do the opposite. He wants to make sure the middle class doesn't have any healthcare, either. I guess that's what he might call leveling the playing field.


What does John McCain have in store for us? Well, for starters, he wants to tax the health benefits we get from our employers. That's right. John McCain wants to raise our taxes.


But that's not all. Senator McCain also plans to eliminate the tax break employers currently receive for providing health benefits to their workers. That's yet another tax increase – and it will eventually result in many employers dropping healthcare coverage as an employee benefit. You'll be on your own, baby.


All is not lost for the individual, though. John McCain will generously extend you a $2500 tax credit so that you can purchase your own health insurance. Well, after all those tax hikes, that's mighty nice of him, isn't it?


Too bad the money isn't remotely realistic. Twenty-five hundred dollars? Is he serious? That might buy you a policy in Somalia. Maybe! You might get common-cold coverage if you're lucky. And if you have a pre-existing condition, you're about as likely to find an insurer as you are to find a licensed alchemist.


But worry not – Senator McCain promises us deregulation of the healthcare marketplace! That'll solve everything! After all, deregulation has worked so well on Wall Street, in the mortgage industry, and in the energy industry.


The same magic of the unregulated marketplace that brought us the spectacular successes of Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch can now be applied to your healthcare provider. The same deregulation that proved such a boon for Maryland power consumers. This kind of "unfettered capitalism" always results in the best of all possible worlds, as we're seeing in Wall Street this week.


Back in the real world, a current study conducted by researchers at four major universities (Columbia, Harvard, Michigan, and Purdue) concludes that McCain's healthcare ideas will cost 20 million Americans their health insurance coverage – and sharply increase the costs for millions more.


Senator McCain has been trying to hijack the "change" brand from Senator Obama. But if this is the kind of change he's got in mind, he probably should save himself the trouble.


There's one silver lining here. Senator McCain lies about almost everything, so maybe he's also lying about his healthcare proposals. There's really no way to know when you're dealing with a candidate completely devoid of integrity.


But if Senator McCain wins, you can probably kiss your employer-based healthcare coverage goodbye. That said, you'll still get a good deal on lipstick. And that's so much more important.


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