TAMPA, Florida (CNN) - Perhaps taking a cue from his former Republican rival Mike Huckabee - a re-born health nut who spent much of his presidential campaign promoting healthy lifestyles - John McCain on Monday emphasized the role personal responsibility will play in reforming America's health care system.
Before McCain's speech, a top policy adviser had said that a significant chunk of the presumptive Republican nominee's health care plan relied on encouraging people to make their own healthy choices, like maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
"But many of us never quite get around to it, and the wake-up call doesn't come until the ambulance arrives or we're facing a tough diagnosis," said McCain at the University of South Florida's Moffitt Cancer Center Tuesday.
McCain called for a "next generation" of chronic disease prevention, with a focus on early intervention, new treatment models and public health education and infrastructure. He also argued for financial incentives that would promote good health habits and discourage high-risk behaviors like smoking.
The comments were part of a high-profile health care policy rollout by the Arizona senator, in which he called for greater national competition among private insurance providers and derided the "nationalized health care" plans of his Democratic rivals.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also emphasize prevention in their health care plans.
McCain's policy director Douglas Holtz-Eakin told reporters Monday night that as president, McCain would fund public education programs and use "the bully pulpit" to encourage health attitudes among children and adults.
He said a major plank of McCain's health care plan is simply "a focus on personal responsibility, and the kinds of things that can help you get better outcomes just by taking care of yourself."