Elizabeth Edwards has gotten a lot of attention lately for her statement that neither she nor Sen. John McCain would be able to get coverage under McCain’s health plan because they have both had cancer. Recently, a conservative blogger tried to counter Edwards, but he just misses the point. The comments of John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, are either uninformed or just intentionally misleading:
GOODMAN: “Elizabeth Edwards apparently thinks insurance companies should have to insure cancer victims even if they were willfully uninsured and paid no premiums during all the years when they were healthy.”
Wrong. Edwards has said time and again that everyone should be expected to take responsibility for themselves and enroll in affordable health insurance. Goodman wants to ask Edwards a series of questions about the kind of health system she wants, but it’s easy. It’s called universal coverage.
GOODMAN: “In the Elizabeth Edwards’ world, by contrast, health plans would try to avoid the sick and if they failed at that, their incentives would be to under provide care.”
Wrong. That’s the world we live in today; the world that Edwards wants to change. The reality is that pre-existing conditions make it hard, if not impossible, for people to get health insurance in the individual market that McCain is promoting. The Democratic reform proposals call for guaranteed issue, so everyone can get insurance, regardless of their health status. And even though McCain has turned his back on patients by supporting a marketplace free of insurance company oversight, Democrats still support a Patient’s Bill of Rights to make sure managed care plans put people before profits.
GOODMAN: “Any Senator or Senator’s spouse who has been participating in the federal employee’s health program cannot be denied coverage by any subsequent employer plan or in the individual market. This guarantee also applies to every other American who is currently in an employer plan under federal law.”
That’s overstated. The Federal government has a 52-page guide explaining insurance coverage protections, and it is clear how individuals’ legal protections are limited. For many Americans, their ability to retain coverage as they change jobs or move from group to individual coverage are determined by the type of coverage they have and the benefits it covers. And for those who can’t afford coverage as they leave a qualified employer plan, those protections disappear completely after 63 days.
Edwards makes an excellent point. John McCain is promoting an individual market with few protections. By pushing more people into that market, McCain puts everyone at risk. Sure, US Senators and their spouses, as Goodman points out, have strong protection. But we need a system that works for everyone.