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McCain Plan Gives Healthcare Power to the People

By Jim DeMint

After Reverend Wright-gate, after landing under sniper fire-gate and even after unseated delegate-gate, Americans will be left with a choice between two candidates with vastly different views on the major policy issues confronting our nation today. The winner of the Obama-Clinton showdown will be virtually indistinguishable on matters of policy from the loser. One of the many issues on which they are in lockstep is health care.

The Democrat solution to America's health care crisis is simple: the federal government will step in and manage the health care decisions of individual Americans. How they expect the massively incompetent federal bureaucracy to succeed in such an endeavor when it cannot even respond adequately to national crisis's like Hurricane Katrina is another question.

Fortunately, Americans will have a better option than KatrinaCare.

John McCain has put forward a bold proposal that will put the power in the hands of the American people, not Washington, DC politicians and bureaucrats. Under the McCain plan, Americans will be free to choose their own health care plans on the open market.

He does this by changing the tax code to allow individual Americans access to a refundable tax credit that they can use to purchase their own plans. Currently, only businesses enjoy breaks in the tax code for health care. The problem with this system is that employers are tied to only the options that they are offered by their boss. Also, if they leave their job, they lose their health care.

A bigger issue confronts folks who do not get health care through their employers. These Americans face enormous disadvantages in a health care market that is biased toward selling plans only to businesses. The costs for individual health care coverage are so high that in many cases they have become prohibitive.

Currently over 46 million Americans are uninsured. This is unacceptable. Our goal as conservatives must be "every American insured." But the solution is not a government takeover of health care, because government has chiefly created the problem of skyrocketing costs that has made insurance unaffordable for many. We must instead focus on reducing the high cost of care that is a result of too many government mandates and a lack of competition in the health care market.

McCain's plan will help reign in health care costs and enables every American to access affordable quality health care that they can own and keep.

This is a drastically different approach to reforming our health care system than the one put forward by the eventual Democrat nominee. Under this plan, patients - not politicians - are put in the driver's seat.

Why not nationalize health care and allow the government to control the entire system? Because as Americans we believe in the individual and in freedom.

Since the dawn of our nation, Americans have resisted government control over their daily lives. Unlike Europeans who have mortgaged their futures in the name of nationalized health care, we have an innate distrust of big government schemes. We have seen time and time again that the greatness of our nation comes from its people, not from the government. Perhaps most importantly, we understand, as Thomas Jefferson understood, that "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have." Jefferson went on to explain that "the course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."

The history that Jefferson observed then is the same that we do today. Those principles still hold true, and as we consider the health care crisis we face today we would do well as Americans to bear these thoughts in mind.

Do we want a solution that offers American more freedom, more choice and more competition? Or do we forsake our principles and follow the path of the Europeans, which has resulted in rationed health care, less choice, less freedom and future fiscal ruin?

In a recent TIME magazine article, Karen Tumulty quoted Harvard School of Public Health professor Robert Blendon making the stakes of this election very clear: "Now you have a real battle. It is one of the biggest philosophical debates we've had in a long time."

He's right, this is a battle for the future of our country and the health of our nation. Both Clinton and Obama appear ready to trade your liberty for government control. I am proud that Senator McCain is not, and I am confident that the American people will choose more freedom over less.

Jim DeMint is a U.S. Senator from South Carolina.

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