McCain’s Health Care Plan Would ‘Undermine Preventive Services’

Today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund hosted ‘McCain University,’ an all-day symposium on Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) policy proposals. At a panel discussion about McCain’s health care reform, Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, underlined an important inconsistency within the senator’s plan:

On the surface, McCain shares a lot of ideas with progressives on how can we change health care costs. He gives lip service to improving chronic disease management…and he talks about improving the use of preventive servicesbut his plan, with its 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. [It] discourages the kind of smart consumers of health care who seek preventive care…and discouraging that kind of good consumerism may actually increase health care spending.

Indeed, on his campaign website, McCain expresses concern for the high costs of chronic care and suggests that his reform would emphasize “prevention”:

Chronic conditions account for three-quarters of the nation’s annual health care bill. By emphasizing prevention, early intervention, healthy habits, new treatment models, new public health infrastructure and the use of information technology, we can reduce health care costs. We should dedicate more federal research to caring and curing chronic disease.

But as Davenport points out, McCain’s overall health reform philosophy encourages Americans to use less care to bring down health care costs. On June 23, 2008, during a town hall meeting, McCain suggested, “if that money [for health care] is coming out of your pocket, you would be more careful about it.”


Thus McCain wants it both ways: he discourages Americans from investing in preventive care, while simultaneously suggesting that “we have a personal responsibility to take better care of ourselves and our children” since “that is the only way to prevent many chronic diseases.”