October 2nd, 2008
10:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: McCain wants to deregulate health care?

The Statement:
During the vice presidential debate on Oct. 2, Democratic nominee Joe Biden described Republican presidential nominee John McCain as a long-time supporter of deregulation of the banking industry and added, "As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for
the health care industry (is) deregulate it and let the free market move like he did for the banking industry."

Get the facts!

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."

Biden and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama have pointed to the first part of that quote to bolster their 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 his opponents 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.

Though a frequent fan of deregulation, McCain 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the current Wall street mess partly on federal regulatory agencies failing to do their jobs, and vows to "replace the outdated patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight" with a high-level, bipartisan oversight board.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.

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