Shannon Brownlee, a senior fellow at the centrist New America Foundation, charges that McCain is "so wedded to the free market that he fails to recognize that there has been market failure" in the healthcare industry.
Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are more ambitious in their proposed reforms than McCain. They both promise, if elected, to provide guaranteed, affordable care for all Americans.
Both of their proposals have taken key elements from a plan of Jacob Hacker, a political scientist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Professor Hacker's template, outlined in an Economic Policy Institute briefing paper, notes: "America's $2.2 trillion-a-year medical complex is enormously wasteful, ill-targeted, inefficient, and unfair. The best medical care is extremely good, but the Rube Goldberg system through which that care is financed is extremely bad – and falling apart." He calls the runaway costs a "grave threat" to the security of family finances and to corporate America's bottom line.
The Hacker plan combines the current employer-based system with a new federally administered insurance pool similar to Medicare, the popular program for older Americans. This new pool would be funded by premiums and copays charged to individuals and employers who sign up, as well as government subsidies. Individuals would automatically be enrolled, either at work or when they seek care. Premiums would be capped, with subsidies for lower-income families.