McCain’s Health Care Plan Embraces John Goodman’s ‘Health Care Philosophy’

On Thursday, numerous blogs highlighted John Goodman’s bizarre claim that everyone in America actually has health insurance. Goodman, “who helped craft Sen. John McCain’s health care plan,” suggested that since “anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance,” the government should “cease and desist from describing any American — even illegal aliens — as uninsured.”

Goodman assumes that the 45.7 million Americans without insurance — in fact, all Americans — don’t really need preventive care or regular check-ups; after all, doctor visits only drive-up medical costs.

In fact, earlier this month, Goodman explained that health care costs too much because employers often subsidize “bells and whistles” coverage. McCain’s plan would put an end to this:

The tax credit “would not subsidize bells and whistles [marriage counseling, acupuncture, etc.] as the current system does,” Mr. Goodman said in an e-mail.

And while the McCain campaign has issued a statement distancing itself from Goodman — by claiming that Goodman’s “philosophy on health care” was “out of step with John McCain — McCain’s plan is deeply influenced by Goodman’s thinking. In July, another McCain health care adviser, Al Hubbard, compared “Americans’ use of the health care system to shoppers who indiscriminately buy caviar while someone else foots the bill”:

So every time you go to the grocery store you just take out your food insurance card, you give it to the cashier, she scans it, and you’re out of there. Pretty soon, you would start buying caviar, expensive steak, and you start buying more than you need.

Even McCain himself has argued that if Americans paid more for coverage, they would use less care:

“If that money [for health care] is coming out of your pocket, you would be more careful about it.” [Town Hall, 6/23/2008]

As Jonathan Cohn points out, emergency-only care is no substitute for real preventive medicine. Like the McCain health care plan, it does little for Americans who actually need to see the doctor.

Unfortunately, for McCain to truly distance himself from Goodman’s “philosophy on health care,” he would have to abandon his entire health care plan.