Campaigning in Missouri Foreshadows Obama Advantages

A report out of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contains a couple of important points which might foreshadow the course of the campaign. Barack Obama discussed campaigning in the rural parts of Missouri where he has little chance of winning:

“In the rural parts of the state, showing up makes a big difference,” Obama said. “My general view is, even if I don’t win those areas, we can narrow the gap and that may make a significant difference in how we do statewide.”

While he said this in Missouri, the same applies to several other battleground and weakly red states which could be tipped.

Obama was campaigning on health care:

Obama told reporters that millions of Americans in similar straits could be helped by his proposals for a voluntary national health insurance plan for the uninsured, self-employed and small businesses.

No one would be rejected because of illness or pre-existing conditions, he said, and premiums would be kept affordable. Companies that don’t provide health coverage to employees would kick in money to help pay for the national plan.

There response from the McCain camp illustrates how unrealistic their plans are:

Frank Donatelli, deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a conference call Tuesday that Obama’s plans would create an unwieldy and costly program that forces unfair mandates on businesses.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is proposing to end tax breaks on businesses that offer employee health insurance and give benefits to individuals so they can purchase insurance.

McCain offers “more of a free-market approach,” Donatelli said, leading to more choices for consumers. He predicted that competition would prompt some insurers to ease their restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

The last paragraph demonstrates how weak McCain’s health care plan really is. It is all based upon the hope that the insurance industry will spontaneously change their ways after he gives them everything they want. In theory it is possible that some day the insurance industry will decide to go after the market of those with preexisting conditions and ease their current restrictions in order to attract this market. While possible in theory, it is highly unlikely as it goes in the opposite direction of everything else the insurance industry has been doing for years.

The insurance industry makes its money by finding ways to take in premiums while minimizing what they have to pay out. This includes making it difficult for people to purchase coverage at a time when insurance companies have to make payments on them. At present restrictions on preexisting conditions would be even more severe than they now are if not for government regulations. For example, some states limit the period that an insurance company can restrict coverage for preexisting conditions to six months.

As long as we have our current situation of many people being uninsured, the insurance company will realize that people are  holding off on treatment of medical problems until they can get insurance. McCain’s approach would not make this situation any better. His plans would shift the cost of health care more towards individuals, even if they have health care coverage. The only way that insurance companies could realistically offer comprehensive coverage without limitations on preexisting conditions would be as part of a plan which offers universal coverage.

Just as Obama’s plan to campaign in areas where Democrats have avoided campaigning in the past will help him win, Obama will have the edge whenever healthcare is debated if the McCain campaign continues to make such weak arguments for their non-plan.

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