Our guest blogger is Adam Jentleson, the Communications and Outreach Director for the Hyde Park Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Today at a campaign event, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) toured Miami Children’s Hospital and met with some of the facility’s young patients. As The New York Times reported, McCain heard the story of Jake, a 9 year-old child with a cleft palate. Cleft palates can be fixed with a simple operation, but as Jake’s father told McCain today, his family has been struggling to get their insurance company to cover the post-operation therapy Jake needs.
While Jake’s father related his story, McCain “nodded intently” –- but failed to tell him that Jake would not get coverage under his health care plan.
As we have documented on this blog, John McCain’s plan would not guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions – a category that includes Jake, as well as anyone with cancer, diabetes, or even hay fever.
In fact, under McCain’s plan, insurance companies would get much broader latitude than they currently have to decide who to cover and who not to cover. Since people with pre-existing conditions are expensive for companies to cover, they’d get left out in the cold.
They wouldn’t be the only ones. McCain’s plan is a radical assault on the employer-based system of health care, and would leave many of the 158 million Americans who get health care through their jobs at risk of losing coverage. But people with pre-existing conditions – people like Jake – would be worse off than most.
In the Times article, McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin ducks the simple question of whether McCain’s plan would guarantee coverage for Jake, saying only that McCain would address the issue in his speech tomorrow.
We will be watching closely for some “straight talk” on this issue, because so far, it’s been way too serpentine.
UPDATE: Covering the same exchange, the Wall Street Journal also pointed out that “left unsaid was that McCain’s health plan is designed to weaken state regulations like the one in Florida that, like 14 other states, mandates that insurance companies cover treatment for cleft palates.”