Wall Street Journal’s Joseph Rago Seems Confused About McCain’s Health Care Plan Too

Our guest blogger is James Kvaal, Domestic Policy Advisor at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The debate continues: Joseph Rago of the Wall Street Journal argues that Sen. McCain “ought to welcome” Elizabeth Edwards’ criticisms of his health care plan. As Edwards says, McCain lets insurers discriminate against people with costly diseases – ironically including McCain himself.

But Rago says that’s okay for three reasons. First, Sen. McCain would create a government backstop for expensive cases. Sounds good, but the devil is in the details – and McCain aides are still “scrambling to come up with ways to satisfy those who want more coverage without violating what they call McCain’s conservative principles.” I’m sure it’s hard to create a new government backstop for millions while also “shrinking government’s role in health care.”

Second, Rago says the McCain plan lets people carry their coverage from job to job. But you can’t keep coverage you never get, and the individual market is fundamentally broken for millions of people.

Finally, Rago says the McCain plan would lower costs. But by leaving millions uninsured, the McCain plan drives up costs by raising administrative costs and undermining preventive care and other efforts to keep costs down.

McCain wants more people to buy health coverage on their own, and his plan might work for families who are healthy and upper-income. But shouldn’t health reform start with people who need help most?