Election 2008

McCain on Health Care: Cutting Costs Is Key

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Both Democratic presidential hopefuls continue to debate their plans to cover the 47 million Americans who currently have no health insurance. But presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain's plan would move the nation's health care system in a different direction from proposals by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"The problem is not that most Americans lack adequate health insurance — the vast majority of Americans have private insurance, and our government spends billions each year to provide even more," McCain has said. "The biggest problem with the American health care system is that it costs too much."

The thrust of McCain's plan is to encourage people to buy their own insurance — rather than get it through their jobs. He'd do that using several strategies: giving people tax credits, encouraging more people to set up tax-advantaged health savings accounts, and letting them buy insurance policies across state lines.

McCain also wants to rein in the government's big health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Just this week in Pittsburgh, for example, he criticized Medicare's new drug benefit for being too generous.

"People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don't need their prescriptions underwritten by taxpayers. Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so," he said.

And one thing McCain says he won't do is impose any sort of requirement that people have health insurance — the sort of mandate that Clinton and Obama are currently sparring over.

But there are a lot of questions about whether McCain's plan actually would make health insurance more affordable and more available.



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