After bitterly deriding so-called government-run health care on the campaign trail, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) today vehemently defended the concept in a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention:
I will make sure that Congress funds the VA health care budget in a sufficient, timely, and predictable manner…I believe the VA should always be there to provide top-quality care for our veterans. And I believe that the VA should continue to provide broad-spectrum health care to eligible veterans, in addition to specialized care in areas such as spinal injuries, prosthetics, and blindness — services in which the VA sets the standard in medical care. [...]
They will not signal privatization of the VA. And they will not replace any scheduled expansion of the VA network — including those facilities designed to serve veterans living in rural and remote areas.
And while McCain’s warm embrace of the popular government health care program may have pleased the VFW — which opposes the senator’s Veterans Health Access Card proposal — his comments likely surprised audiences across America, to whom McCain delivered a different message.
In fact, throughout the campaign and in numerous Town Hall events, McCain has consistently claimed that government involvement in health care sacrifices “the most essential value of American lives– freedom”:
- We’ve got to have incentives for people to make their own decisions about their own health care. Families should be making the decisions and not government. [Town Hall in Denver, 7/7/2008]
- We’ve had hours and hours of discussion on health care, but to sum it up, I want the families to make the choices on health care in America, and not the government. Thank you. [NALEAO Conference, 6/28/2008]
- I offer a genuinely conservative vision for health care reform, which preserves the most essential value of American lives — freedom…In health care, we believe in enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care. We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs. [Des Moines, 10/11/2007]
Unfortunately, McCain, who has himself benefited from government-funded health services, is trying to have it both ways on health care.