National Review Offers Weak Defense Of McCain Health Care Plan

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

The National Review editors defend Sen. John McCain’s health care plan, disputing that it hurts people with existing illnesses. Today we learned that group includes Jay Cutler, who is healthy enough to be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos but also has diabetes.

So how will the McCain plan ensure that people with chronic illnesses can buy coverage? The National Review takes a pass on advocating the McCain campaign’s preferred solution, high-risk pools that subsidize last-resort insurance. Instead, it argues that people who buy their own insurance while healthy will no longer lose it when they change jobs.

Fair enough, but this line of reasoning leaves out the 56 million chronically ill people covered by their employers today. And while individual insurance is generally renewable, “premiums can still increase dramatically for people who develop health problems.” So buying insurance when you’re healthy doesn’t guarantee that you can keep it when you’re sick.

There is a better way to make sure that people can always buy the coverage they need: require insurers to sell to all comers at fair rates and create new subsidies to ensure that premiums are affordable.