The McCain plan: “Health insurance for people who don’t need health care”

It’s terrible policy and lousy politics: if the Democrats have a candidate who can make that point.

Ezra Klein gets it right: John McCain’s proposal to wreck the employment-based health insurance market would leave us with “health insurance for people who don’t need health care.” Jonathan Cohen has the gritty details. Short version: without employer-based pool or a national system, there’s no way to give decent health insurance to those with expensive diseases, and McCain doesn’t even plan to try.

Not only is this pure madness substantively, it ought to be rotten politics. But that depends on having a candidate who can take an opponent’s lousy policy idea and show the voters how and why it’s lousy policy. I’m confident that the candidate who is now making Hillary Clinton wish she’d never thought about trying to bamboozle the public on the gas tax holiday will do an equally good job on McCainCare in the general election.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: