September 08, 2008

Show Us The Money

‘Obama vs. McCain: Where Do They Stand On Cancer?’ was posted by the Lance Armstrong Foundation on The posting included links to position papers on cancer from both the Obama and McCain campaigns. Both candidates tug on the heart-strings of what cancer has meant in their lives, outline bills they have voted for, and dress up their healthcare intentions in broad, pleasing language.

Personally I don’t care who showed up at what cancer rally, or even what their cancer policy intentions are. No candidate is ever going to say they won’t fund an increase in the National Cancer Institute. But, just because a candidate says they are going to fund cancer research does not mean they will lead our country towards the fiscal position to do so.

Additionally, according to the American Cancer Society, just as many cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to lack of access to health care as are due to lack of scientific breakthroughs. I believe fixing the insurance crisis is the number one way to increase cancer survival rates. It is impossible to detach the insurance crisis from economics, so we must look beyond cancer rhetoric to see how the candidates’ larger platforms do or do not support their healthcare claims: basically, show us the money.

McCain’s Health Savings Accounts and Healthcare Tax Credits will not benefit working families who do not earn enough to save or to get a tax credit: these programs will only benefit wealthier families. McCain’s plan to provide insurance to those who cannot afford it is to work with Governors on the state level using high-risk pools. This is not realistic: states are broke (because they have been picking up the tab of the federal government who is cutting social programs; this problem will only worsen under McCain as he stated he wants to eliminate more federal programs), and there is no way that 50 individual states can effectively solve the insurance crisis. State risk-pools are not affordable for the average consumer – I had state risk pool insurance, for which my state paid Blue Cross to offer me health insurance, which Blue Cross got to charged me $450/per month for. McCain is in favor of deregulating health insurance companies; this is at direct odds with his claim to limit pre-existing condition exclusions, which will never be passed under a Republican administration.

Fundamentally, McCain and his party have always supported tax credits that benefit those with the largest incomes, spending more on defense than the budget can often sustain, and spending less on social programs. These kinds of politics create an economy that cannot fund the doubling of the National Cancer Institute budget, or many of the other nice healthcare sound bytes that McCain proposes.

What is your take on the two position papers from the Livestrong blog post linked above?

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