NEJM puts the smack down on McCain Health Care Plan

Armen Hareyan's picture

Today's Issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has articles examining both candidates' health care plans. While the article on Obama's plan does criticize it for treating the "symptoms" rather than the root cause of our Healthcare Coverage Crisis, the article on McCain's plan is brutally honest about what a had idea it is. It is entitled "Primum Non Nocere - The McCain PLan for Health Insecurity".

Both are well worth reading and are available on-line as free full text articles:

Primum Non Nocere in the title of the McCain aritcle is a latin term in used medicine for "First thing is to do no harm". In his introduction the author, David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. does a good job of explaining just why McCain's plan is such a bad idea and why it would do real harm to many average Americans:


The most important questions raised by the health care proposals of the presidential candidates concern their values and judgment. These will guide a new president through the tortuous, unpredictable process of leading health care change. The specifics of candidates' proposals matter. But more important is what health plans communicate about a prospective president's fundamental beliefs and character.

By this standard, John McCain emerges not as a maverick or centrist but as a radical social conservative firmly in the grip of the ideology that animates the domestic policies of President George W. Bush. The central purpose of President Bush's health policy, and John McCain's, is to reduce the role of insurance and make Americans pay a larger part of their health care bills out of pocket. Their embrace of market forces, fierce antagonism toward government, and determination to force individuals to have more "skin in the game" are overriding — all other goals are subsidiary. Indeed, the Republican commitment to market-oriented reforms is so strong that, to attain their vision, Bush and McCain seem willing to take huge risks with the efficiency, equity, and stability of our health care system. Specifically, the McCain plan would profoundly threaten the current system of employer-sponsored insurance on which more than three fifths of Americans depend, increase reliance on unregulated individual insurance markets (which are notoriously inefficient), and leave the number of uninsured Americans virtually unchanged. A side effect of the McCain plan would be to threaten access to adequate insurance for millions of America's sickest citizens

The closing of the story is brutal:

The choice facing health care professionals, like all Americans, is basic: Who deserves to be trusted with the stewardship of America's health care system? The McCain proposal violates the bedrock principle that major health policy reforms should first do no harm. It would risk the viability of employer-sponsored insurance and the welfare of chronically ill Americans in pell-mell pursuit of a radical vision of consumer-driven health care. Senator McCain's plan does not demonstrate the kind of judgment needed in a potential commander in chief of our health care system

Reported by Karoshi's diary.



My daughter has suffered with Multiple Sclerosis for 20 years. He husband is a diabetic with childhood diabetes. I watch them suffer each and every day. They are headed into a $ nightmare of huge proportions, the price of meds and ongoing care is obscene. How john mccain and the republican party can sleep at night is beyond me. Barak Obama and Joe Biden have at least shown some concern for the health disaster occuring in this country.