July 17th, 2008
02:50 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain calls Obama health care plan 'HillaryCare'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/16/art.mccain.wed.ap.jpg
caption="McCain said Obama's health care plan amounts to a government takeover."]
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CNN) - John McCain devoted a substantial chunk of his town hall meeting Thursday to drawing contrasts with Barack Obama on health care policy, stressing his opposition to the presumptive Democratic nominee's health care plan and noting the "great difference" between them on abortion.

McCain's strongest denunciation of Obama came when discussing the Democrat's health care plan, which would cost $50-65 billion per year but would not mandate insurance coverage for all adults, only children.

"My friends, we've seen this movie before," McCain said. "It was called 'HillaryCare' back in 1993, and we're not going to do it again. We're not going to have the government take over the health care system in America."

At a later moment in the town hall, when stressing his own bipartisan record, McCain accused Obama of generally having "the most extreme record of any member of the United States Senate."

McCain also went out of his way early in the event to trumpet his opposition to abortion rights and a called partial-birth abortion a "hideous procedure that should never be allowed anywhere on earth." He promised "active advocacy for the rights of the unborn."

McCain struck a more moderate tone when taking a question about federal funding for stem cell research, which he supports. The Arizona senator argued the government should fund research on stem cells - especially skin cells - because of their "incredible potential" to combat diseases. However, the presumptive Republican nominee avoided using the term "embryonic" when discussing the matter Thursday.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (309 Responses)
  1. Andrew Dzeguze

    Okay, CNN, why didn't you put anything in this piece about the flat-out lie by McCain in calling the Obama plan a rehash of Hillary's 1993 debacle?

    Obama's plan is NOT a single payer (ie government) system. That and the consequential lack of a comprehensive mandate was the constant drumbeat complaint about his version of the system by Edwards and Clinton.

    The Obama plan is NOT socialized medicine. Again, that would require the country to dismantle the insurance system, not just regulate it.

    The Obama plan will largely leave in place the current employer based insurance system (something McCain's proposal would likely strip out – a boon to business owners, but not people with sick kids or chronic conditions).

    What the Obama plan adds that doesn't exist right now is a combination of a federal plan for those who can't or don't get private insurance (one comparable to Congressional coverage), tax credits to make insurance affordable, regulations on the insurance companies to ensure that pre-existing conditions don't become an easy out to only covering people who are well, and generally an effort to ensure that people stop overtaxing the emergency medical system because they lack access to primary care. A key component of the last part is a limited mandate that if you have children you have to cover them, and that if you continue to abuse the system despite having care available to you the government will go after you for the full cost of treatment.

    By most accounts, this plan is close to what Republicans and moderate Democrats proposed as an alternative to the Clinton "Universal" plan in 1993, and which Hillary wouldn't accept at the time. That is, something we could and should have had 15 years ago – not a radical change, but a moderate new direction with benefits for all Americans.

    By comparison, McCain's central premise is that healthy Americans should be able to get cheaper coverage by divorcing themselves from their employer's plans and then banking the difference in health savings accounts. Sounds great, but it really turns on how heavily your employer subsidizes your health plan. If its a 60-75% subsidy (common for white collar workers), then your premium would skyrocket in the open market. Even if your personal health allowed you to save some portion of $5 K in an HSA, one major issue and you'd wipe it out, plus you'd probably see your premiums soar again (since you aren't part of that "healthy" pool anymore but a bigger risk to the industry). People already in that higher risk category, or whose children or spouse are? They wouldn't benefit from the proposal in the first place, but would see the cost of employer-provided healthcare rise, if it continued to exist at their work at all. The answer to the obvious gaps this would create is not to eliminate pre-existing condition rules, but create high risk pools akin to state minimum coverage for car insurance.

    As a whole, in fact, the McCain plan would put your healthcare on the same footing as your auto insurance. If you are a perfectly healthy invdividual with no risk factors and who manages to avoid the sort of issues that will hit almost every American family (i.e. the perfect driver with no tickets or accidents, whether their fault or not), this system may work for you at least in the short run. But for everyone else, it will likely cost more with fewer benefits, and a constant emphasis in the industry on appearing to lower the cost of premiums through a series of discounts you can't compare across brands and the degree of service. In the long run, that ever greater disparity in care will likely look a lot like what we have in both auto insurance and healthcare today – with poor or really sick people driving up the costs for everyone because their coverage stinks or doesn't exist.

    July 17, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Brian

    I dont think this even deserves an explanation. They say that if all you can do is attack another person on their views, its because you dont have a remedy of your own. Good job mcCain.

    July 17, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. not important

    McCain is lying. Barack Obama will not garnish peoples wages. Stop lying McBush.

    July 17, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. William Courtland, Waterford, ON

    It relates to this as how to tax people; everyone with a cell phone; union employment records, criminal records, medicals records, sports and vediogame records, currency records... are in ones own hands nearly all the time, while the records are actually also somewhere else, one becomes accountable for themselves via a conscience rating by open survey and government account, this then relates to taxation rebates and such as those criminally provided or respectfully gained, check of employement required for discounts in consumer goods relating to ones profile and all record of stock purchase is backed up, service-profit share?

    July 17, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. John - Houston

    I am kind of hoping Obama wins, so that the college kids in the state of Texas will consider putting into action what many of us want to do...

    make Texas its own country so we can get away from the liberal kool aid drinkers, who think socialism is the way to go.

    oh yeah, if universal healthcare is the key, why are doctors in the UK turning away those with government healthcare?

    Texans For Texas Independence!

    July 17, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. not important

    And Barack Obamas plan is not mandatory.

    July 17, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. dAVE

    How much does McSame pay for healthcare again?

    Oh, wait – he has socialized healthcare just like all the congresspeople who oppose it on principle. What a bunch of hypocrites!

    July 17, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. really? come on

    Universal health care wouldn't bankrupt this country. An unjust and unwarranted war would (and is...).

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Paula "Hussein" Mack Canada

    Geeze..I finally agree with McCain on one thing..Partial Birth Abortion. It is hideous, horrific and shouldn't be allowed anywhere on earth. This is the only really serious issue I disagree with Obama on. Pro Choice but no unborn should suffer a partial birth abortion. I still cannot believe it is even legal in North America!!

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. mmm

    hahahaha barack hussein obama II , stop the drama ,

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Jay

    Why does anyone even listen to John McInsane? Think of it this way you have one president that can't run a country in Bush. If you follow the same route with John McCain he will say anything to get in. He's old and senile and is out of touch. Not only do we have a president who has ran this country into the ground, but McCain is the one wearing a mask and trying to pull the wool over all of your eyes. I also want to add that Cindy McCain looks like Cruella De Vil from 100 delmations. She looks like another evil arrogant person like John McSame.

    Barack Obama 4 President

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Puma = Poopoo

    Fellow poster from NY had it right:

    PUMA is fake, they are nasty republicans !!!

    PUMA is fake, they are nasty republicans !!!

    PUMA is fake, they are nasty republicans !!!

    They have to resort to this kind of trickery because their candidate has no clue, no chance and no where to go but down, down, down.

    God Bless My Bam Bam! It will be a beautiful day come January...

    July 17, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. go away mongers- Ventura ca

    GO AWAY McSame- You are so full of it- Eight years of hot air has been WAY TOO MUCH ALREADY!

    July 17, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Cindy needs to take her husband home and if not to their house how about a nursing home.

    July 17, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Molly

    What will kill this country is not the lack of health care, a stable economy, the job market, the needless wars...no, what will kill this country is the uneducated stupidity on display every day in these comment sections and elsewhere all over this country. Just because you THINK it doesn't make it reality. Universal health care is a necessity for many people in this country, and that will become more apparent as time goes on. Do research and read up before spouting off itemized talking points on a CNN message board. We need to stop being so nice, and call out morons for what they are.

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Real Change

    NC Man July 17th, 2008 3:34 pm ET

    That is one really well thought-out possition on a very complicated subject big fella!
    Do you realllize that every other nation in the western world has nationalized health care, and they love it!? Do you even realize that? Their governments seem to do it just fine.

    You sir have lapped the cool-aid right out of the dish the right-wing is handing you. Where was your "government can't do anything" possition when they were getting us into this worthless war?

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. Wisconsin


    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. John - Houston

    yes because not being mandatory means NO ONE will abuse it...smart

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Kyle in San Diego

    I really feel bad for the whole McCain campaign. It is evident that not only is he out of touch, but his advisors are all over the place and clearly have no idea how in the hell to beat Obama. (I'm an Obama supporter btw) I would expect that SOMEONE in the campaign would have the foresight and judgment to say, "Wait a minute, maybe we shouldn't be praising Hillary on one hand to get her voters, but then trying to link her with Obama on the other." Again, while the self-destruction of McCain makes me giddy, the lack of judgment by his campaign, and ultimately himself, is shocking in today's political world. They should all be fired.

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. McBride, SLC, UT

    All you bitter Hillary Supporters better listen up. He wants your vote, but he will do nothing for you when he is president!

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. John in Columbus Ohio

    "For those who know P.U.M.A, we will stay home and not vote!!! We rather see Obama losing, than see him without Hillary on the ticket. Less people will vote to Obama, more chances, he will go back to the Senate with his head down!!!"

    Yes, racists certainly do believe that slaves, negroes, and coloreds should keep their heads down and not get uppity.

    Hopefully a majority of the country will vote smart for a change, instead of voting in line with their baser instincts.

    July 17, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. PJ

    So, we could have healthcare for America at the cost of 5 months in Iraq.....

    I don't understand when McCain says we can't afford health care yet we can afford to pay for a war that was not the cause of 9/11 (by their commission) nor which has made us safer by increasing the deficit and borrowing from China.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Damian Salter

    I thought everyone having healthcare is a good thing!

    Trying to demon-ize it by attaching Hillary's name to Obama's, does nothing to disguise McCain's lack of a healthcare plan.

    In fact it just alienates those 18 million Hillary supporters!

    Thats right McCain you just kissed 18 million Hillary supporters goodbye!!!

    Smooth move!!!!! LOL!

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Peter

    McCain is uniting democrats...yay!

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Ronfrom FL

    Mcsame must be really losing his mind like he is losing Hillary supporters. I think he is exibiting signs of Parkinson's.

    Obama 08

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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