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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Best Lede Graf on McCain Health Plan Study

Best Lede Graf on McCain Health Plan Study

September 17, 2008

Everyone is covering the Health Affairs study slamming John McCain's health plan.

The best lead paragraph came from the normally fairly-staid New York Times:

Senator John McCain’s top domestic policy adviser, former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, recently said in a conference call with reporters that Mr. McCain’s health care proposal would “put 25 to 30 million individuals out of the ranks of the uninsured, into the ranks of the insured.” In an article released Tuesday, a panel of prominent health economists concludes that Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s projection is off by, well, 25 to 30 million.

It's from one of their blogs, so they're allowed to be a bit more colorful.

Good analysis/summaries of the study from both The American Prospect's Ezra Klein ("In other words, his plan makes health care more expensive, less comprehensive, and less secure. It is health reform you can't believe in, or rely upon.") and The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn ("Fewer people with health insurance. Weaker insurance for those who already have it. This is McCain's solution to the anxiety over rising medical bills?").

Health Affairs also published an analysis critical of Obama's plan. The main critique is that plan over-regulates and does not do enough to control spending. One of the lessons we drew from Massachusetts health reform is that coverage expansions, as hard as they are, are easier than serious cost control. Massachusetts wisely decided not to hold coverage hostage to the difficult decisions about cost. In fact, expanding coverage increases the pressure to do something about costs, pressure that wouldn't exist without the expansion.

In any case, Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis quickly responded to the critique, saying that if payment and system reforms advocated by Obama were included, the plan would save money, rather than increase costs. More to come, I'm sure.
Brian Rosman