Countdown’s Keith Olbermann is donating $100 to charity for every lie told by or on behalf of John McCain and Sarah Palin during the campaign. McCain invented the Blackberry? $100. Palin says she’ll help special needs kids, not mentioning that she vetoed $250,000 for the Special Olympics? Another $100 from Keith. Every day seems to cost him another $100.
But this particular lie is so huge it ought to cost Olbermann a bundle because it’s worth a lot more than $100.
In late April, McCain rolled out what he called a universal health care plan which, it turns out, offers neither a health plan nor universal coverage. Instead, McCain’s approach should be dubbed “The Health Insurance Industry Relief Act” because it is a not-so-carefully disguised money grab, moving cash from the wallets of already hard-stretched working people to line the pockets of wealthy insurers.
The mainstream media hasn’t bothered going to McCain’s website to read the down-and-dirty of another of his “You get sick, my pals get rich” scheme. But New York Times columnist Bob Hebert finally did, prompting him to ask on Tuesday, “Has anyone bothered to notice the radical changes that John McCain and Sarah Palin are planning for the nation’s health insurance system?
Apparently not, because no one seems to notice that McCain wants to require workers to pay taxes on the value of the health benefits paid by their employers. Say what? That’s right: Employees will not only continue to pay part of escalating premiums, but also a tax on the benefits. In return, McCain would give families a $5,000 tax credit, and individuals a $2,500 credit, to lure them out of employer plans and into the individual insurance market.
McCain and Palin – both of whom are covered by lush yet inexpensive government plans – hope people will forget that premiums are super high and scrutiny of health conditions is super tough for individual health policies in the private market.
As a result, in not reporting what the McCain-Palin plan is, the news media hasn’t mentioned that, for most people, the tax credit won’t buy much coverage, given sky high premiums. Nor have reporters written about the fact that the plan is worth a lot more to younger workers, who don’t get sick, than older ones who are more likely to get ill and thus pay more because of their age.
More critically, nowhere other than Hebert’s column has anyone realized that the McCain-Palin approach would eventually destroy employer-based coverage.
Herbert then connects the consequences of destroying the employer market with McCain’s plans for the individual market, writing that McCain wants “to undermine state health insurance regulations by allowing consumers to buy insurance from sellers anywhere in the country.” Allowing insurers to cross state lines will not lower insurance premiums but it will eliminate valuable protections many states give their residents in regulating insurance companies.
A study published in the health policy journal Health Affairs explains in detail what is likely to happen with McCain’s approach, concluding the number of people without health insurance will actually grow and increase a family’s costs for medical care. The unintended consequence will be to kick up the number of uninsured Americans – right now at a revolting 47 million – to even greater heights.
Yet this is just the opposite of what we’ve heard from McCain and Palin. Maybe editors and reporters finally will take notice – but I doubt it.
by Charley James
Charley James is an American journalist, author and essayist who lives in Toronto.
Reprinted with permission from The Progressive Curmudgeon
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