How will you fare under John McCain’s healthcare plan? What about Barack Obama’s proposal for healthcare? There are a of questions floating around concerning both McCain and Obama’s respective health plans. Do you have any conditions (such as what he has; history of cancer) that might exclude you from obtaining private healthcare? Can you change jobs and rely on getting your own healthcare insurance should your employer-to-be not offer any company insurance because they will no longer receive any incentives to continue doing so? Will you be forced to use governmental doctors? Will the government stand over the shoulders of the doctors interferring with your doctor’s decisions? Good questions! We’ll get to the answers shortly.
First, you may want to take a look at how your state fares right now, in terms of how many people are uninsured, how many have have insurance with chronic conditions, how many have employer health insurance, and then those insured in that category called “other coverage.” Click on the map and find out.
Ok, so what does John McCain’s healthcare policy say? How about Obama’s plan? Keep reading to find out. Keep reading for my thoughts on both of their plans.
First, John McCain’s plan:
The key to McCain’s plan is it continues to deal with private healthcare insurance companies. The mission of the private healthcare companies is to maximize profits, as mandated by law for any public company. A public company must do everything it can to ensure profitability for the shareholders.
And McCain believes in the Free Market solving everything, which is impossible when you have two diametrically opposing needs: outlay of money for sick people and maximizing profits for shareholders. The two just do not work in our favor.
He says that they will offer innovative insurance that costs less. Less to whom? If you no longer have a company being subsidized by the government (in corporate tax deductions) they will unlikely continue to offer benefits, especially if it will cost you more. What if you don’t have any income for a period of time? What if you lose your job?
As to portability, insurance companies set what they will cover, not cover, and varying conditions of any coverage.
Health Savings Accounts are great, if you have money to set aside for the possible emergency. With the spiraling costs of food, gasoline, heating, and just about everything else, how much would the average American be able to put into an account? And again, what if you find yourself unemployed?
I see a lot of areas where McCain wants to work with states and legislatures to enact change. Does that mean shifting costs to the states when the private insurers will not cover things or people? What if the Free Market says no to the proposals? We need to remember that McCain does not believe in govermental regulations, which always makes me think about pet food, lead in childrens toys and toothpaste, and tainted Heparin, a injectible drug used to clot blood.
McCain mentions privatizing existing state insurance programs. Right now, people on Medicaid and Medicare have better insurance than I do. That is a regressive step. I want the same healthcare insurance that Senator McCain has.
One approach would establish a nonprofit corporation that would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance and could join with other state plans to enlarge pools and lower overhead costs. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.
This tax credit will now come to you, and no longer your employer. This effectively erases any incentive for them to continue to offer healthcare plans to you. Because larger employers get discounts for large-volume buying (many employees = big discounts), those discounts will not be available to individual families.
You will get a tax credit of up to $5000. That is not money in your pocket, it is a credit taken on your tax return. So, you wind up with more costs out-of-pocket and the possibility of a tax credit, depending upon how you file your taxes.
To summarize Senator McCain’s proposal, I see a lot of nice words, with very little specifics – and the ones that I do see, don’t reassure me. I also see a call for more privatization (Medicare).
But what about Obama’s plan? Ok, let’s address that:
The first thing I see in Obama’s plan is that it covers everyone with insurance similar to what Senator Obama has himself. It guarantees coverage to every single American with no conditions, with affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Subsidies will be offered to those who cannot afford to pay. All children will be required to be covered.
Employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan.
His plan gives the states the flexibility to continue to experiment with varying options and plans as long as they meet the minimum national standards set.
He wants to cover health preventative programs (something sorely lacking in any program now. You have to become ill to get help.) He also spells out how to ensure that everyone has QUALITY healthcare by having QUALITY healthcare providers, including preventable medical error reporting, incentives to the providers to excellence levels, and research, among other things. This means that you continue to use whatever private doctor you choose, they just get paid by the government.
It includes several specifics on how to cut costs; moving to electronic information technology and lowering costs by increasing both competition and drug markets.
Obama will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion.
Well, if Canada can buy drugs from the US and sell them at a fraction of what we pay, and with the Bush administration refusing to allow drugs be imported to the US from Canada, this makes an awful lot of sense!
Obama’s plan sounds very similar to House Resolution 676, which is already written and ready to go. We just need people to support it, both in Congress and then a president who will sign it into law. Having read HR 676, I can honestly say that I LOVE IT! This is a far cry from “socialized medicine” and it gives everyone access to healthcare, something which should be a right, not an option based on your income.
Take a look at it. It details out how it will be paid for, that you can use any doctor you want who certified, and the biggest plus is that doctors support it! Many doctors think that the current state of healthcare in America is frustrating. From having to hire people specifically to deal with insurance SNAFU’s to not being able to provide care for the patient because the clerk at the insurance company is virtually standing over the doctor’s shoulder with a calculator and a wagging finger saying No, No, No.
Senator McCain said in his presidential acceptance speech last night:
My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
I don’t know about you, but right now, I have had some insurance company bureaucrat and the people who, of late, refuse to fill any of my doctors’ prescriptions (the last five prescriptions were turned down by the insurance company). And we’re talking things like specific antibiotics for a wicked sinus infection I had. As it is, I use one prescription nasal spray which has a $50.00 copay, yet while I was in Canada and ran out, the entire cost to me, as a foreign citizen, was $26.00. Now tell me, who is standing in the way of good healthcare?
I think it’s the private insurance companies that Senator McCain wants to bet the farm on.
Cross posted at TheZoo.
From John McCain’s official website. Key items are highlighted below:
John McCain’s Vision for Health Care Reform
John McCain Believes The Key To Health Care Reform Is To Restore Control To The Patients Themselves. We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need. Health care should be available to all and not limited by where you work or how much you make. Families should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over care.
Making Health Insurance Innovative, Portable and Affordable
John McCain Will Reform Health Care Making It Easier For Individuals And Families To Obtain Insurance. An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people’s needs, lower prices, and portability. Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines.
John McCain Will Reform The Tax Code To Offer More Choices Beyond Employer-Based Health Insurance Coverage. While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit – effectively cash – of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider. Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.
John McCain Proposes Making Insurance More Portable. Americans need insurance that follows them from job to job. They want insurance that is still there if they retire early and does not change if they take a few years off to raise the kids.
John McCain Will Encourage And Expand The Benefits Of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) For Families. When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions and often decide against unnecessary options. Health Savings Accounts take an important step in the direction of putting families in charge of what they pay for.
A Specific Plan of Action: Ensuring Care for Higher Risk Patients
John McCain’s Plan Cares For The Traditionally Uninsurable. John McCain understands that those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need.
John McCain Will Work With States To Establish A Guaranteed Access Plan. As President, John McCain will work with governors to develop a best practice model that states can follow – a Guaranteed Access Plan or GAP – that would reflect the best experience of the states to ensure these patients have access to health coverage. One approach would establish a nonprofit corporation that would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance and could join with other state plans to enlarge pools and lower overhead costs. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.
John McCain Will Promote Proper Incentives. John McCain will work with Congress, the governors, and industry to make sure this approach is funded adequately and has the right incentives to reduce costs such as disease management, individual case management, and health and wellness programs.
A Specific Plan of Action: Lowering Health Care Costs
John McCain Proposes A Number Of Initiatives That Can Lower Health Care Costs. If we act today, we can lower health care costs for families through common-sense initiatives. Within a decade, health spending will comprise twenty percent of our economy. This is taking an increasing toll on America’s families and small businesses. Even Senators Clinton and Obama recognize the pressure skyrocketing health costs place on small business when they exempt small businesses from their employer mandate plans.
CHEAPER DRUGS: Lowering Drug Prices. John McCain will look to bring greater competition to our drug markets through safe re-importation of drugs and faster introduction of generic drugs.
CHRONIC DISEASE: Providing Quality, Cheaper Care For Chronic Disease. Chronic conditions account for three-quarters of the nation’s annual health care bill. By emphasizing prevention, early intervention, healthy habits, new treatment models, new public health infrastructure and the use of information technology, we can reduce health care costs. We should dedicate more federal research to caring and curing chronic disease.
COORDINATED CARE: Promoting Coordinated Care. Coordinated care – with providers collaborating to produce the best health care – offers better outcomes at lower cost. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care which will make every single provider accountable and responsive to the patients’ needs.
GREATER ACCESS AND CONVENIENCE: Expanding Access To Health Care. Families place a high value on quickly getting simple care. Government should promote greater access through walk-in clinics in retail outlets.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Greater Use Of Information Technology To Reduce Costs. We should promote the rapid deployment of 21st century information systems and technology that allows doctors to practice across state lines.
MEDICAID AND MEDICARE: Reforming The Payment System To Cut Costs. We must reform the payment systems in Medicaid and Medicare to compensate providers for diagnosis, prevention and care coordination. Medicaid and Medicare should not pay for preventable medical errors or mismanagement.
SMOKING: Promoting The Availability Of Smoking Cessation Programs. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. Working with business and insurance companies to promote availability, we can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs.
STATE FLEXIBILITY: Encouraging States To Lower Costs. States should have the flexibility to experiment with alternative forms of access, coordinated payments per episode covered under Medicaid, use of private insurance in Medicaid, alternative insurance policies and different licensing schemes for providers.
TORT REFORM: Passing Medical Liability Reform. We must pass medical liability reform that eliminates lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocols. Every patient should have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice but that should not be an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits.
TRANSPARENCY: Bringing Transparency To Health Care Costs. We must make public more information on treatment options and doctor records, and require transparency regarding medical outcomes, quality of care, costs and prices. We must also facilitate the development of national standards for measuring and recording treatments and outcomes.
Confronting the Long-Term Challenge
John McCain Will Develop A Strategy For Meeting The Challenge Of A Population Needing Greater Long-Term Care. There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that are pioneering approaches for delivering care to people in a home setting. Seniors are given a monthly stipend which they can use to hire workers and purchase care-related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities.
Setting the Record Straight: Covering Those With Pre-Existing Conditions
MYTH: Some Claim That Under John McCain’s Plan, Those With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Be Denied Insurance.
FACT: John McCain Supported The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act In 1996 That Took The Important Step Of Providing Some Protection Against Exclusion Of Pre-Existing Conditions.
FACT: Nothing In John McCain’s Plan Changes The Fact That If You Are Employed And Insured You Will Build Protection Against The Cost Of Any Pre-Existing Condition.
FACT: As President, John McCain Would Work With Governors To Find The Solutions Necessary To Ensure Those With Pre-Existing Conditions Are Able To Easily Access Care.
Combating Autism in America
John McCain is very concerned about the rising incidence of autism among America’s children and has continually supported research into its causes and treatment.
And this from Barack Obama’s official website:
Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All
- Obama’s Plan to Cover Uninsured Americans: Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress. The Obama plan will have the following features:
- Guaranteed eligibility. No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.
- Comprehensive benefits. The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.
- Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
- Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.
- Simplified paperwork and reined in health costs.
- Easy enrollment. The new public plan will be simple to enroll in and provide ready access to coverage.
- Portability and choice. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange (see below) will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.
- Quality and efficiency. Participating insurance companies in the new public program will be required to report data to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.
- National Health Insurance Exchange: The Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. The Exchange will act as a watchdog group and help reform the private insurance market by creating rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible. Insurers would have to issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend upon health status. The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and have the same standards for quality and efficiency. The Exchange would evaluate plans and make the differences among the plans, including cost of services, public.
- Employer Contribution: Employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. Small businesses will be exempt from this requirement, and will receive a new Small Business Health Tax Credit that helps reduce health care costs for small businesses.
- Support for Small Businesses: Barack Obama will create a Small Business Health Tax Credit to provide small businesses with a refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent on premiums paid by small businesses on behalf of their employees. This new credit will provide a strong incentive to small businesses to offer high quality health care to their workers and help improve the competitiveness of America’s small businesses.
- Mandatory Coverage of Children: Obama will require that all children have health care coverage. Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents’ plans.
- Expansion Of Medicaid and SCHIP: Obama will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs and ensure that these programs continue to serve their critical safety net function.
- Flexibility for State Plans: Due to federal inaction, some states have taken the lead in health care reform. The Obama plan builds on these efforts and does not replace what states are doing. States can continue to experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan.
Lower Costs by Modernizing The U.S. Health Care System
- Reducing Costs of Catastrophic Illnesses for Employers and Their Employees: Catastrophic health expenditures account for a high percentage of medical expenses for private insurers. The Obama plan would reimburse employer health plans for a portion of the catastrophic costs they incur above a threshold if they guarantee such savings are used to reduce the cost of workers’ premiums.
- Helping Patients:
- Support disease management programs. Seventy five percent of total health care dollars are spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Obama will require that providers that participate in the new public plan, Medicare or the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) utilize proven disease management programs. This will improve quality of care, give doctors better information and lower costs.
- Coordinate and integrate care. Over 133 million Americans have at least one chronic disease and these chronic conditions cost a staggering $1.7 trillion yearly. Obama will support implementation of programs and encourage team care that will improve coordination and integration of care of those with chronic conditions.
- Require full transparency about quality and costs. Obama will require hospitals and providers to collect and publicly report measures of health care costs and quality, including data on preventable medical errors, nurse staffing ratios, hospital-acquired infections, and disparities in care. Health plans will also be required to disclose the percentage of premiums that go to patient care as opposed to administrative costs.
- Ensuring Providers Deliver Quality Care:
- Promote patient safety. Obama will require providers to report preventable medical errors and support hospital and physician practice improvement to prevent future occurrences.
- Align incentives for excellence. Both public and private insurers tend to pay providers based on the volume of services provided, rather than the quality or effectiveness of care. Providers who see patients enrolled in the new public plan, the National Health Insurance Exchange, Medicare and FEHBP will be rewarded for achieving performance thresholds on outcome measures.
- Comparative effectiveness research. Obama will establish an independent institute to guide reviews and research on comparative effectiveness, so that Americans and their doctors will have the accurate and objective information they need to make the best decisions for their health and well-being.
- Tackle disparities in health care. Obama will tackle the root causes of health disparities by addressing differences in access to health coverage and promoting prevention and public health, both of which play a major role in addressing disparities. He will also challenge the medical system to eliminate inequities in health care through quality measurement and reporting, implementation of effective interventions such as patient navigation programs, and diversification of the health workforce.
- Insurance reform. Obama will strengthen antitrust laws to prevent insurers from overcharging physicians for their malpractice insurance and will promote new models for addressing errors that improve patient safety, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and reduce the need for malpractice suits.
- Lowering Costs Through Investment in Electronic Health Information Technology Systems: Most medical records are still stored on paper, which makes it hard to coordinate care, measure quality or reduce medical errors and which costs twice as much as electronic claims. Obama will invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records, and will phase in requirements for full implementation of health IT. Obama will ensure that patients’ privacy is protected.
- Lowering Costs by Increasing Competition in the Insurance and Drug Markets: The insurance business today is dominated by a small group of large companies that has been gobbling up their rivals. There have been over 400 health care mergers in the last 10 years, and just two companies dominate a full third of the national market. These changes were supposed to make the industry more efficient, but instead premiums have skyrocketed by over 87 percent.
- Barack Obama will prevent companies from abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases. His plan will force insurers to pay out a reasonable share of their premiums for patient care instead of keeping exorbitant amounts for profits and administration. His new National Health Exchange will help increase competition by insurers.
- Lower prescription drug costs. The second-fastest growing type of health expenses is prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are selling the exact same drugs in Europe and Canada but charging Americans more than double the price. Obama will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion. Finally, Obama will work to increase the use of generic drugs in Medicare, Medicaid, and FEHBP and prohibit big name drug companies from keeping generics out of markets.
Fight for New Initiatives
- Advance the Biomedical Research Field: As a result of biomedical research the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases such as cancer and heart disease is better today than any other time in history. Barack Obama has consistently supported funding for the national institutes of health and the national science foundation. Obama strongly supports investments in biomedical research, as well as medical education and training in health-related fields, because it provides the foundation for new therapies and diagnostics. Obama has been a champion of research in cancer, mental health, health disparities, global health, women and children’s health, and veterans’ health. As president, Obama will strengthen funding for biomedical research, and better improve the efficiency of that research by improving coordination both within government and across government/private/non-profit partnerships. An Obama administration will ensure that we translate scientific progress into improved approaches to disease prevention, early detection and therapy that is available for all Americans.
- Fight AIDS Worldwide. There are 33 million people across the planet infected with HIV/AIDS. As president, Obama will continue to be a global leader in the fight against AIDS. Obama believes in working across party lines to combat this epidemic and recently joined Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) at a large California evangelical church to promote greater investment in the global AIDS battle.
- Support Americans with Disabilities: As a former civil rights lawyer, Barack Obama knows firsthand the importance of strong protections for minority communities in our society. Obama is committed to strengthening and better enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that future generations of Americans with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities. Obama believes we must restore the original legislative intent of the ADA in the wake of court decisions that have restricted the interpretation of this landmark legislation.Barack Obama is also committed to ensuring that disabled Americans receive Medicaid and Medicare benefits in a low-cost, effective and timely manner. Recognizing that many individuals with disabilities rely on Medicare, Obama worked with Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) to urge the department of health and human services to provide clear and reliable information on the Medicare prescription drug benefit and to ensure that the Medicare recipients were protected from fraudulent claims by marketers and drug plan agents.
- Improve Mental Health Care. Mental illness affects approximately one in five American families. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that untreated mental illnesses cost the U.S. more than $100 billion per year. As president, Obama will support mental health parity so that coverage for serious mental illnesses are provided on the same terms and conditions as other illnesses and diseases.
- Protect Our Children from Lead Poisoning. More than 430,000 American children have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood. Lead can cause irreversible brain damage, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma and death. As president, Obama will protect children from lead poisoning by requiring that child care facilities be lead-safe within five years.
- Reduce Risks of Mercury Pollution. More than five million women of childbearing age have high levels of toxic mercury in their blood, and approximately 630,000 newborns are born at risk every year. Barack Obama has a plan to significantly reduce the amount of mercury that is deposited in oceans, lakes, and rivers, which in turn would reduce the amount of mercury in fish.
- Support Americans with Autism. More than one million Americans have autism, a complex neurobiological condition that has a range of impacts on thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to relate to others. As diagnostic criteria broaden and awareness increases, more cases of autism have been recognized across the country. Barack Obama believes that we can do more to help autistic Americans and their families understand and live with autism. He has been a strong supporter of more than $1 billion in federal funding for autism research on the root causes and treatments, and he believes that we should increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to truly ensure that no child is left behind.More than anything, autism remains a profound mystery with a broad spectrum of effects on autistic individuals, their families, loved ones, the community, and education and health care systems. Obama believes that the government and our communities should work together to provide a helping hand to autistic individuals and their families.
Barack Obama’s Record
- Health Insurance: In 2003, Barack Obama sponsored and passed legislation that expanded health care coverage to 70,000 kids and 84,000 adults. In the U.S. Senate, Obama cosponsored the Healthy Kids Act of 2007 and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007 to ensure that more American children have affordable health care coverage.
- Women’s Health: Obama worked to pass a number of laws in Illinois and Washington to improve the health of women. His accomplishments include creating a task force on cervical cancer, providing greater access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, and helping improve prenatal and premature birth services.