September 23rd, 2008
08:30 AM ET
13 years ago

Fact Check: Does McCain really want to deregulate health care?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Does McCain really want to deregulate health care?"]The statement:

"Now this 'Great Deregulator' wants to turn his attention to health care. ...John McCain says he wants to do to the health care system what Washington's done to the banking system. ... The radical idea that government has no role to play in protecting ordinary Americans has wreaked havoc on our economy."

–Sen. Barack Obama, at a campaign stop in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 21, 2008

Does McCain really want to deregulate health care like banking, as Obama suggests?

The facts:

In Congress, Sen. John McCain has frequently supported deregulation. Some aspects of that deregulation are now widely blamed for the problems on Wall Street.

In the current issue of a magazine for the American Academy of Actuaries, McCain discussed a change he wants to bring to the health care market: allowing people to buy plans across state lines. "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation," he wrote in the magazine called "Contingencies."

Obama pointed to the first part of that quote to bolster his argument that McCain wants to see the health care industry undergo the same changes as the banking industry. But the reform McCain wants for health care - state deregulation - is only one of several types of deregulation that reshaped the banking industry. McCain has not proposed reshaping the health care industry in all the same ways as banks.

McCain and Obama disagree over what impact state deregulation could have on the health care industry. McCain says the increased competition would benefit consumers; Obama says consumers would lose key protections, and insurance companies would be given more power. Which side is right is a matter of analysis and prediction.

But McCain, factually, is not espousing "the radical idea that government has no role to play in protecting ordinary Americans." Though a frequent fan of deregulation, he blames the current Wall street mess partly on federal regulatory agencies failing to do their jobs, and vows to "replace the outdated patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight" with a high-level, bipartisan oversight board.


Misleading. McCain does want to overhaul state oversight of health care, but the deregulation he is calling for is not nearly as extensive as what was done to the banking system.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • Health care • John McCain
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