Financial Bailout Puts US Health Care Reform in Jeopardy

Neither McCain's nor Obama's proposals would escape unscathed
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The health care reform plans of the two U.S. presidential campaigns are both likely to suffer implementation setbacks due to the government's $700 billion bailout of the country's troubled financial sector, according to an article published online Oct. 22 in The Lancet Oncology.

Bryant Furlow, a journalist, writes that John McCain's plan is based on cuts to federal insurance for the poor, increased cost containment and moving health insurance away from the current employer-led model into a system opened up to the free market. Barack Obama's plan, on the other hand, proposes greater government regulation over cost controls, expanded coverage and anticipated long-term cost savings from increased efficiency and health information technology, he writes.

The impact of the $700 billion bailout on the country's budget deficit, making it the largest budget deficit in American history, will force reform to be implemented incrementally, the article states, but commentators disagree over which plan would be worse affected by the bailout.

"Obama's plan involves more spending and proposes a new Medicare-like program costing $140 billion a year in new spending. There's not going to be money for that," according to Michael Cannon, of the CATO Institute, a Washington, D.C. thinktank. "I think the bailout will be harder on McCain's plan," notes Sherry Glied, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City. "It's hard to imagine Congress will want to expend political capital taking on its expense with little to show in terms of expanded coverage," Glied adds.

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