In the Arena


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One of John McCain’s health care advisers has proposed a novel solution to the nation’s health insurance problems: stop counting those who don’t have health insurance, since anyone can get health care if they go to an emergency room. Therefore…everybody’s covered. To which one can only say: huh?

But I’ll let Ezra Klein, health policy wonk extraordinaire, express my amazement.

Update: Jonathan Cohen, the New Republic’s health policy specialist, reports that the McCain campaign is saying that John Goodman, the expert in question, is no longer an adviser to the campaign:

Mr. Goodman volunteered his advice to the campaign in the past. However, his philosophy on health care–and especially on the urgency of the problems faced by 45 million uninsured American’s–are clearly out of step with John McCain. Earlier this summer the campaign informed Mr. Goodman that his advice was not required and requested that he not identify himself as being associated with the campaign in any way, including as a volunteer. John McCain could not disagree more strongly with Mr. Goodman. John McCain believes that addressing the problem of the nation’s uninsured is one of our most pressing national priorities. That’s why the McCain health plan will, for the first time, bring health coverage within reach of every American.

Of course, that last bit about the McCain plan bringing health coverage “within reach” of every American is a clever construction to camouflage the basic facts of the plan: McCain is offering an insufficient $5000 per family health insurance tax credit, and raising money to pay for it by limiting the deductability of employer-provided health care plans–a tax increase, by any other name (and one that I would support, in the context of a universal system that would provide tax credits on a sliding scale according to income). McCain also does little, if anything, to force insurers to cover all comers, regardless of age of pre-existing condition.