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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

 
This Happens Every Day

by dday

Either John McCain has the worst advance people in the world, or his policies - and Republican policies in general - are so decidedly aristocratic that they can't help tripping all over themselves.

At his health care policy event yesterday at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Florida, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was introduced by the institute’s chairman, former Republican senator Connie Mack. But, as Hotline reports, Mack is more than just a chairman. He’s also a registered state lobbyist “advocating for health insurance companies“.


(By the way, Mack just married Rep Mary Bono (CA-45). Surely that will come up in her re-election campaign. UPDATE: I got my Mack's wrong. Bono married Mack's son, also Connie Mack. Making her Miss Mary Mack.)

This has happened at virtually every McCain appearance recently. Last week he rode on and praised a ferry which was created with an earmark. He went to Youngstown, Ohio and praised NAFTA at a factory that was closed after NAFTA was enacted. Reality keeps getting in the way of McCain's Presidential hopes.

The funny part here is that the McCain camp tried to deep-six the story:

According to Hotline’s Jennifer Skalka, “the McCain campaign lobbied On Call feverishly to tank” its reporting on Mack’s role as a lobbyist, calling the story “ludicrous, absurd and ridiculous.”


I guess Ms. Skalka didn't get any of that yummy BBQ, or she would have known her place.

Later in the day, McCain blamed the Minnesota bridge collapse on runaway spending and earmarks - not that Republicans have gutted infrastructure spending at all - then was presented with an earmark that, gosh, saved lives.

On the same day, McCain was confronted with an earmark he did consider worthy. During a forum at Lehigh Valley Hospital, he met a woman with ovarian cancer who was treated in a clinical trial funded with $80 million in congressional earmarks.

The hospital was showing off an electronic medical records system that is virtually paper-free.

McCain insisted he was not trying to have it both ways and said that deserving projects can get money through regular channels.

"It's the process I object to," he said. "I'm sure that I can give you a list of projects the Mafia funds, and they would probably be good projects. But I can't give you a justification for the Mafia. I can't give you a justification for the corruption that's been bred which has sent members of Congress to the federal prison," he said.


I'm sure the Republicans who turned the earmark process into their personal favor factory in the 1990s are going to be so eager to campaign for McCain now. You know, after being compared to the Cosa Nostra and all.

On top of that, McCain has gone from a position against spending to a position against the technical process by which spending is achieved. That's going to really bowl them over on the stump. McCain wants to make himself the grand poohbah deciding what spending is OK and what spending isn't. The problem is that when he is put to the wall, he can't come up with more than a scattered few projects that are verboten. And he doesn't dare touch that sacred cow, the military budget, which is responsible for about 100 times the wasteful spending as earmarks.

McCain has put himself in a terrible position. Plenty of earmarks provide tangible benefits for people. Every campaign stop, he's going to be confronted by someone. And he'll have to say "Well, when I say cut spending, I don't mean THAT," and this is why his trillions and trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy and new spending will never be brought into balance. He is dangerous and fiscally irresponsible.

Also, his health care plan will bankrupt a lot of sick people.

McCain is offering people like (Elizabeth) Edwards what he calls a "Guaranteed Access Plan." But unlike all those awful big-government entitlements the Democrats are promising--you know, the ones that (supposedly) make you wait in long lines and cut off access to high-technology treatments--McCain says his plan will let the states handle the problem by working hand-in-hand with private insurers to offer insurance for people with pre-existing conditions [...]

It all sounds very lovely--unless you know something about health care policy, in which case it sounds absolutely preposterous.

More than 30 states already have programs almost exactly like the one McCain just sketched out. They are called "high risk pools," and the idea is pretty straightforward: Private insurers agree to sell policies directly to individuals, even those with pre-existing medical conditions, as long as the state helps to subsidize the cost.

But the whole reason conservatives like McCain prefer this approach to liberal schemes for universal coverage is that it involves minimal government regulation. As a result, private insurers have enormous leeway in dictating the terms of coverage. And one place they use that leeway is by setting high prices. A few years ago, a Commonwealth Fund study found that, on average, state high-risk pools offered coverage that was two-thirds more expensive than regularly priced coverage. In some states, the high-risk coverage was actually twice as high as regular coverage.

At those prices, you might think the coverage was spectacular. Not so. While private insurers in high-risk pools are willing to accept people with pre-existing conditions, they're not generally willing to cover expenses related to those pre-existing conditions--at least not right away. Nearly all the plans surveyed had waiting periods of between six months and a year, during which the insurers would not cover care for prior medical problems.


Between out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, cost-sharing, and treatment not covered by high risk pool plans, someone like Elizabeth Edwards, with her breast cancer, would probably have to pay around $100,000 under McCain's plan. She has it; most cancer patients don't.

Someone's going to ask him about that on the trail, too. And it'll be another embarrassment. In fact, the only way McCain's bankrupt domestic policies will not cause one misstep after another is if he confines himself to whistle-stop tours of gated communities and medieval castles.


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