McCain’s ‘Cancer Plan’ Undermines LiveStrong’s Priorities

Tomorrow, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will “share his cancer plan and answer questions” at the 2008 LIVESTRONG Summit, a cancer awareness event headed by LIVESTRONG founder Lance Armstrong.

But as CAPAF senior fellow Elizabeth Edwards points out, McCain, a cancer survivor himself, would be unlikely to get coverage under his own plan if he did not have government-provided insurance. Indeed, McCain’s health care proposal undermines cancer prevention and treatment in three major ways:

1. Excludes cancer patients from coverage: By pushing more Americans into the unregulated individual insurance market, McCain’s plan allows insurance companies to exclude individuals with pre-existing conditions, like cancer, from coverage. In fact, a recent Commonwealth analysis concluded that in the individual insurance market, “individuals with preexisting conditions are denied coverage, have conditions excluded, or face much higher and often unaffordable premiums.”

2. Allows insurance companies to exclude mammograms from coverage: McCain’s plan “could exempt insurers from stricter state regulations, such as requiring coverage of mammograms” by allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines without requiring insurance companies to comply with the consumer protection laws of the state. As a recent report by Families USA points out, “the last thing the health care system needs is a new wild west mentality…with little or no protection or oversight.”


3. Discourages preventive cancer screenings: McCain’s overall health reform philosophy, which encourages Americans to use less care to bring down health care costs, and his reliance on the individual market and the high deductible policies that proliferate in this market, would actually undermine preventative services and good chronic care management.

Back in April, Edwards asked McCain:

Doesn’t your plan really encourage insurers plans to compete to avoid people with cancer or other high-cost diseases? Don’t you think that the kind of competition that starts with a decent level of required coverage, that doesn’t exclude the care we actually need, would be better?

McCain’ didn’t attend LIVESTRONG’s Presidential Cancer Forum in 2007. Tomorrow he will have a lot to answer for.

UPDATE: Read more about how conservative proposals undermine provisions which help people with cancer access health insurance here.