The Spectacle Blog

McCain’s ‘Special Medicaid Trust Fund’

By on 4.22.08 | 10:47AM

As I noted at FreedomTalks last week, John McCain -- not always a favorite amongst the free-market crowd -- has recieved high marks from economic conservatives for his health care proposals. Cato's Michael Tanner has said that what McCain proposes is "more consumer-centered and taps into the best aspects of the free market."

In general, that's been true. But economic issues are (obviously) not McCain's specialty, and that's made him too susceptible to external pressure on the issue. Case in point: Responding to recent remarks by Elizabeth Edwards that, due to their histories of cancer, neither she nor McCain would be gauranteed health insurance under his plan (many insurers don't approve applicants with certain high-risk pre-existing conditions), McCain announced that he would cover those with pre-existing conditions through a "special Medicaid trust fund."

Adding to the problem, McCain's aides have so far been unable to provide much detail about the fund. Here's the Boston Globe attempting to track down the details:

Lately, some of McCain's aides have said he might try to divert some Medicaid funds into a program that would help people with preexisting conditions, but his advisers can't yet say how such a program would work or how many people would be covered.

"These are real questions, and I think there will be answers, and there better be, but they are not there yet," said McCain adviser Thomas P. Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "A lot more remains to be hammered out."

Indeed, these questions should be answered -- and soon. Because, without further detail, I'm afraid I have to agree with Elizabeth Edwards when she follows up on McCain's proposal by writing:

McCain opposes universal health care because he claims it represents a "big government takeover and mandates." But yesterday, he said he would help cover people with preexisting conditions by creating a "special Medicaid trust fund."

A "special Medicaid trust fund"? Talk about a big government takeover. Tens of millions of Americans have preexisting conditions. If he is going to expand Medicaid to cover Americans with preexisting conditions, he is talking about a massive, massive increase in the Medicaid program.

She's right; such a fund would have to cover an awful lot of people, and it's hard to say that it wouldn't qualify as big-government health care.

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