John McCain On Health Care

In 2006, 47 million Americans – including 8.7 million children - lacked health insurance, and for those with insurance the cost of health insurance premiums has increased 78 percent between 2001 and 2007 [U. S. Census Bureau, August 2007; Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2008]. Amid this crisis, John McCain has a health care record that is classic in its GOP indifference to the problems affecting America’s working families. McCain has repeatedly voted to cut Medicare and Medicaid, opposed efforts to expand health insurance to children and prescription drug coverage to seniors and opposed increased funding for veterans’ health care. Here is a look at McCain’s key votes on this issue of major importance.

Facts About McCain And Health Care

McCain’s Tax Plan Gives Top Ten Health Insurance Companies $1.9 Billion A Year In Tax Breaks. A study conducted by the Center for American Progress found that, “As president, McCain would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and allow corporations to deduct immediately all of their investments in equipment and technology. Reducing the corporate tax rate alone would deliver a $1.9 billion tax cut to the 10 largest health insurance and managed care companies.” [Center for American Progress, 4/9/08]

McCain’s Proposed Health Care Tax Breaks Could Undermine Group Health Insurance System And Increase The Burden On Older, Less Healthy Americans. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Linda Blumberg, an economist and principal research associate at the Urban Institute “expressed concerns that the [McCain] tax break changes would undermine the group health insurance system by encouraging younger, healthier people to seek their own coverage, placing substantially increased financial burdens on older or less healthy people.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/18/08]

McCain Voiced Support For An “Outcome-Based” Healthcare Plan That Would “Reward” Doctors For Treating Patients Well. During the ABC News/Facebook/WMUR Republican debate in New Hampshire, McCain said he believed patients should pay healthcare providers a “reward” for making a patient well. He said, “I think that there’s additional choice here: a choice of having outcome-based treatment.” He added, “If someone has diabetes, we should give the health care provider a certain amount of money and say, ‘Care for that patient. And if, at the end of that period of time, and that patient is well, we’ll give you a reward.’“ [ABC News/Facebook/WMUR Republican Debate, 1/5/08]


McCain Record On Children’s Health

McCain Voted To Cut, Eliminate, Restrict Health Insurance Coverage for Low Income Children and Pregnant Mothers At Least SIX Times. [SCR 27, Vote #76, 5/21/97; S 949, Vote #149, 6/27/97; HR 4810, Vote #204, 7/17/00; H.R. 976, Vote #307, 8/2/07; S 3, Vote #45, 3/11/03; H.R. 3963, Vote #401, 10/31/07]

McCain Opposed Extending Coverage To Uninsured Children. On October 31, 2007, after President Bush vetoed the first SCHIP reauthorization, McCain again opposed expanding SCHIP to millions of additional children. He voted against a motion to invoke cloture and bring the reauthorization forward for a vote before the Senate. The motion passed 62-33. [H.R. 3963, Vote #401, 10/31/07]

McCain Opposed Reauthorizing SCHIP And Providing Insurance For Millions Of Uninsured Children. In August 2007, McCain voted against passage of H.R. 976, which would have reauthorized the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). According to Knight Ridder, “The Senate proposal would provide coverage to 3.2 million” uninsured children and renew coverage for the 6 million children already covered by the program. The legislation passed 68-31. [H.R. 976, Vote #307, 8/2/07; Knight Ridder, 8/2/07]

  • McCain Opposed SCHIP Because It Would Cover Too Many Children. McCain not only voted against SCHIP, he went to the Senate floor to argue against covering millions of additional children, arguing “the program has expanded beyond what Congress first intended. In some cases, SCHIP coverage has been extended to middle-income children.” [Congressional Record, 8/2/07]
  • McCain: Covering Uninsured Children Is Too Expensive. According to the Washington Post, McCain said, “[what] was supposed to be for low- income Americans is now up to 400 percent of the poverty level, just like the Medicare prescription drug program, an unfunded liability.” [Washington Post, 10/10/07]
  • McCain Then Skipped Vote On Passage Of The Bill. After clearly registering his opposition to the SCHIP reauthorization by voting against the cloture motion, McCain skipped the vote on passage of the legislation. The bill passed 64-30. The Kansas City Star reported the bill would “provide health insurance to an additional 4 million lower-income children.” [H.R. 3963, Vote #403, 11/1/07; Kansas City Star, 11/2/07]

McCain Voted Against Allowing Uninsured Parents To Enroll In The Same Plans As Their Children. In 2000, McCain voted against an amendment would allow states to expand coverage under the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (S-CHIP) to the parents of the children enrolled in the program. The amendment failed 51-47. [HR 4810, Vote #204, 7/17/00]


Uninsured and Access to Care

McCain Opposed Expanding Health Care Coverage And Containing Rising Costs. In 2004, McCain voted against an amendment that provided an additional $60 billion over five years to expand health care coverage. The amendment failed 43-53. [SCR 95, Vote #47, 3/11/04]

McCain Voted To Allow Medical Savings Accounts. In 1996, McCain voted in support of an amendment that established medical savings accounts, which allow individuals to make tax deductible contributions to special accounts set up to pay medical expenses. The Washington Post reported critics’ attacks of MSA’s: “Opponents call them a lavish tax break for the rich and a bad idea for the country as the healthy and wealthy choose them and leave the poor and sick in the traditional insurance pool.” The amendment was defeated 52-46. [S 1028, Vote #72, 4/18/96; Washington Post, 4/19/96]

McCain Opposed Expanding COBRA Coverage to Retirees. In 2000, McCain voted against an amendment that would have expanded COBRA coverage to include retirees whose employer-sponsored health care coverage was terminated and to provide a 25-percent tax credit for COBRA coverage. The amendment failed 30-68. [HR 4810, Vote #202, 7/17/00]

McCain Voted Against Providing Tax Credits to Small Businesses That Offer Health Insurance To Employees. In 2000, McCain voted against considering an amendment that would have provided a tax credit to small businesses that offered health insurance coverage to their employees. The amendment failed 49-49. [HR 4810, Vote #205, 7/17/00]

McCain Opposed Requiring Health Plans To Pay For Post-Stabilization Services At Hospitals Under Certain Circumstances. In 1999, McCain voted to require all group health plans to allow their participants to go to emergency rooms for treatment without prior authorization under the “prudent layperson” standard. McCain voted against requiring a health plan to pay for any post-stabilization services if a health plan could not be reached for instructions on further care within 1 hour after stabilization of a patient and if the care given met the regulatory definition for covered post-stabilization care currently used by Medicare and Medicaid for their health maintenance organization (HMO) participants (that definition is “medically necessary, non-emergency services furnished to an enrollee after he or she is stabilized following an emergency medical condition”). The amendment failed 47-53. [S 1344, Vote #201, 7/13/99]

McCain Voted Against Increasing Benefits For Children With Special Needs In The Social Security Act. In 1997, McCain voted to table an amendment that would revise the Social Security Act to include additional benefits for children with special needs, including physical, speech and language therapy, and mental health services. The motion to table passed 57-43. [S 947, Vote #128, 6/25/97]

McCain Voted Against A $3,000 Tax Credit To Help Seniors Or Their Families Pay For Long-Term Care. In 2000, McCain voted against an amendment that would increase the general estate tax exemption and provide seniors with long term care needs or their caregivers a $3000 tax credit phased beginning in 2001. The credit would be $1000 the first year and increase in $500 increments each year. Taxpayers with long term care needs, or with spouses or dependents with long term care need would be eligible for the tax credit. The amendment failed 46-51. [HR 8, Vote #193, 7/14/00]

McCain Opposed Providing $20 Billion Over 10 Years To Home Health Care Providers. In 1999, McCain voted against an amendment to reserve $20 billion over 10 years for relief from the unintended consequences of the Balanced Budget Act on teaching hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health care providers, rural and other community hospitals, and other health care providers, by reducing or deferring certain new tax breaks in the bill. The motion was rejected 50-50. [S 1429, Vote #234, 7/30/99]

McCain Opposed a Measure to Create a New Program for Home and Community-Based Long-Term Care. McCain voted against an amendment that would have created a new program to provide States with funds for home and community-based long-term care services for people with disabilities. [Vote #533, Motion Rejected 45-54, 104th Congress, 1st Session, 10/27/95]



McCain Has Voted To Cut, Restrict, And Underfund Medicaid At Least Seven Times. [HJR 2, Vote #21, 1/23/03; HCR 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96; HCR 178, Vote #156, 5/23/96; SCR 57, Vote #117, 5/16/96; HCR 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95; SCR 13, Vote #173, 5/22/95; S. 947, Vote #124, 6/25/97; S. 947, Vote #111, 6/24/97; HCR 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95]


  • Mccain Voted Not To Improve Health Care Under The Medicare And Medicaid Programs. In 2003, McCain voted against a measure which would have increased funding for health care programs under Medicare and Medicaid by $4.1 billion. The motion was rejected 41-56. [H.J.R. 2, Vote #21, 1/23/03]
  • McCain Voted To Cut Medicaid Funding By $182 Billion. In 1995, McCain voted for adoption of the conference report on the fiscal 1996 budget resolution to put in place a seven-year plan to balance the budget by 2002 by cutting projected spending by $894 billion, including cuts of $270 billion from Medicare, $182 billion from Medicaid, $190 billion in non-defense spending, and $175 billion from various entitlement programs such as welfare. The conference report was agreed to 54-46. [HCR 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95]
  • McCain Voted To Cut An Estimated $72 Billion From Medicaid As Part Of The FY 1997 Budget Resolution. In 1996, McCain voted for adoption of the conference report on the concurrent resolution to establish a six-year plan to balance the federal budget by 2002. Projected spending cuts over six years include $158.1 billion in Medicare, $72 billion from Medicaid, $53 billion from welfare and $297.9 billion from discretionary spending. The conference report passed 53-46. [HCR 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96]


Medicare and Prescription Drugs


McCain Voted To Restrict Access To Medicare At Least Two Times.  McCain has voted to raise the eligibility age and add means testing for Medicare.  [S 947, Vote #112, 6/24/97; S 947, Vote #115, 6/25/97]


  • McCain Voted To Raise The Medicare Eligibility Age From 65 to 67. In 1997, McCain voted in favor of raising the eligibility age for receiving Medicare from 65 to 67 with the change being phased in between 2003 and 2027. The motion passed 62-38. [S 947, Vote #112, 6/24/97]
  • McCain Supported Increasing The Medicare Eligibility Age. In 1997, McCain voted for an increase in the eligibility age of Medicare, creating a home health co-payment, and means testing Medicare part B. McCain voted to drive healthy people from the Medicare system. The motion failed 25-75. [S 947, Vote #115, 6/25/97]


McCain Has Voted To Cut, Restrict, And Underfund Medicare At Least Twenty-Eight Times.  [S. 1932, Vote #363, 12/21/05; S. 1932, Vote #303, 11/3/2005; S. 1, Vote #253, 6/26/03; S. 1, Vote #247, 6/26/03; SCR 23, Vote #89, 3/25/03; HJR 2, Vote #21, 1/23/03; H.J.R. 2, Vote #21, 1/23/03; H.C.R. 83, Vote #73, 4/5/01; HCR 83, Vote #73, 4/5/01; S.C.R. 86, Vote #53, 4/1/98; H.C.R. 178, Vote #156, 5/23/96; H.C.R. 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96; H.R. 2491, Vote #584,11/17/95; H.R. 2491, Vote #556, 10/27/95; H.C.R. 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95; S.C.R. 13, Vote #232, 5/25/95; S. 1357, Vote #499, 10/26/95; HCR 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96; HCR 178, Vote #156, 5/23/96; S 1357, Vote #524, 10/27/95; S 1357, Vote #499, 10/26/95; HCR 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95; SCR 13, Vote #232, 5/25/95; SCR 13, Vote #218, 5/25/95; S.C.R. 13, Vote #173, 5/22/95; H.R. 2491, Vote #584, 11/17/95; H.R. 2491, Vote #556, 10/27/95; S. 1932, Vote #363, 12/21/05; SCR 13, Vote #173, 5/22/95]



  • McCain Voted to Cut $6.4 Billion from Medicare. In 2005, McCain voted for the budget reconciliation bill that cut funding for Medicare by $6.4 billion by requiring that beneficiaries purchase medical equipment and cutting payments to home health care providers. The motion passed 50-50, with Vice President Cheney casting the deciding vote. [S. 1932, Vote #363, 12/21/05]
  • McCain Voted Against Funding For Rural Medicare Health Care Providers.  In 2003, McCain voted against an amendment that would reduce the enormous tax cut given to the wealthiest American tax payers in order to give a fair reimbursement to rural health care providers under Medicare.  [SCR 23, Vote #89, 3/25/03]
  • McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For Medicare and Medicaid Programs By $4.1 Billion. In 2003, McCain voted against a measure which would have increased funding for health care programs under Medicare and Medicaid by $4.1 billion. The motion was rejected 41-56. [HJR 2, Vote #21, 1/23/03]
  • McCain Voted to Cut an Estimated $158.1 Billion from Medicare.  In 1996, McCain voted in favor of cutting Medicare by $158.1 billion over six years.  He first voted in favor of the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget Resolution that contained the cut and then voted for the same cut in the conference report.  Both passed 53-46. [H.C.R. 178, Vote #156, 5/23/1996; H.C.R. 178, Vote #159, 6/13/1996]
  • McCain Voted to Cut Medicare by $270 billion.  In 1995, McCain voted for budget that would cut Medicare by $270 billion.  [H.R. 2491, Vote #584, 11/17/1995; H.R. 2491, Vote #556, 10/27/1995; H.C.R. 67, Vote #296, 6/29/1995] 


McCain Said He Would Repeal The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan If He Couldn’t Fix It. Asked if he would repeal the 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan if he were President, McCain said, “I would - if I couldn’t fix it I would repeal it. I, you know, but at first I’d try to fix it.” McCain detailed that he would “structurally reform it,” noting that, “certain prescription drugs now are having dramatic inflation associated with it, because we put in a provision prohibiting, prohibiting the government to say that these pharmaceutical companies should compete with each other.” [, 6/23/06]

McCain Voted Against Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage At Least Twenty-Eight Times.  [S 1, Vote #262, 6/26/03; S1, Vote #259, 6/26/03; S 1, Vote #254, 6/26/03; S 1, Vote #253, 6/26/03; S1, Vote #250, 6/26/03; S 1, Vote #240, 6/24/03; S 1, Vote #239, 6/24/03; S 1, Vote #236, 6/24/03; S 1, Vote #234, 6/24/03; S 1, Vote #229, 6/19/03; S 1, Vote #227, 6/18/03; S. 1932, Vote #363, 12/21/05; S 1932, Vote #302, 11/3/05; S 1054, Vote #159, 5/15/03; SCR 23, Vote #89, 3/25/03; SCR 23, Vote #82, 3/25/03; SCR 23, Vote #63, 3/20/03; S 812, Vote #199, 7/31/02 ;S 812, Vote #187, 7/23/02; S 812, Vote #186, 7/23/02; S 812, Vote #182, 7/18/02; HCR 83, Vote #66, 4/3/01; HCR 83, Vote #65, 4/3/01; HR 4810, Vote #206, 7/17/00; HR 8, Vote #186, 7/13/00; HR 4577, Vote #144, 6/22/00; SCR 101, Vote #52, 4/5/00; S 1429, Vote #231, 7/29/99]



  • McCain Voted Against the Prescription Drug/Medicare Bill After Voting Down 12 Important Enhancements to the Legislation.  In 2003, McCain voted against a Medicare bill which did little to lower the costs of prescription drugs.  Under the limited drug benefit, those with drug costs below $5,800 would still have to pay most of their drug costs, and premiums would vary across the country. The bill passed 76-21. [S 1, Vote #262, 6/26/03]
  • McCain Voted Against an Amendment Closing the Medicare Prescription Drug Loophole. In 2003, McCain voted against an amendment to ensure that current retirees who had prescription drug coverage but would lose their prescription drug coverage as a result of the enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D) would have the option of drug coverage under the Medicare fallback. This amendment was an attempt to give these seniors an option of prescription drug coverage under Medicare. The amendment failed 42-54. [S 1, Vote #259, 6/26/03]
  • McCain Voted Against Lowering Prescription Premiums for Medicare Recipients. In 2003, McCain voted against an amendment that would authorize $2.4 billion a year for four years to lower premiums for enrollees in a Medicare prescription drug benefit plan. The amendment failed 39-59. [S 1, Vote #254, 6/26/03] 
  • McCain Opposed Creating a Strong Prescription Drug Plan Under Medicare. In 2003, McCain voted against an amendment that would have created a prescription drug benefit plan under the traditional Medicare program available to all eligible recipients. The program would be available every year in addition to any private plans offered. The amendment failed 37-58. [S 1, Vote #227, 6/18/03]
  • McCain Voted Against A Prescription Drug Benefit To Medicare. In 2000, McCain voted against an amendment that would have added a new prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program would provide prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients as an entitlement. Private sector contractors would be hired to provide the benefits. Most of the costs of the new program would be paid for by the taxpayers rather than by Medicare beneficiaries. The amendment failed 44-53. [HR 4577, Vote #144, 6/22/00]
  • McCain Voted Against A Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program. In 1999, McCain voted against a motion to recommit the Tax Reconciliation bill to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions that would direct the committee to add language that would reduce the bill’s tax cuts by an amount sufficient to allow establishment of a Medicare prescription drug benefit program. The motion to recommit the bill failed 45-55. [S 1429, Vote #231, 7/29/99]


McCain Has Voted Against Ensuring Medicare’s Future By Opposing Efforts To Extend Its Solvency At Least Nine Times.   [H.R. 1836, Vote #137, 5/22/01; H.R. 4577, Vote #162, 6/29/00; S. 1429, Vote #228, 7/29/99; H.C.R. 68, Vote #84, 4/13/99; S.C.R. 20, Vote #66, 3/25/99; S.C.R. 20, Vote #61, 3/24/99; S.C.R. 20, Vote #59, 3/24/99; S. 947, Vote #125, 6/25/97; S. 947, Vote #124, 6/25/97]


Veterans Health Care

McCain Voted Against Veteran’s Health Care At Least SIX Times. [SCR 18, Vote #55, 3/16/05][SCR 95, Vote #40, 3/10/04][S1689, Vote #379, 10/14/03][SCR 23, Vote #81, 3/25/03][SCR 23, Vote #74, 3/21/03][S 936, Vote #168, 7/10/97]


  • McCain Voted Against Increasing Veterans’ Health Care By $2.8 Billion. In 2005, McCain voted against an amendment that would have increased funding for veterans’ health care by $2.8 billion for fiscal 2006 and reduced the deficit by $2.8 billion. The amendment failed 47-53. [SCR 18, Vote #55, 3/16/05]
  • McCain Voted Against $1.8 Billion In Veterans Health Care Funding.  In 2004, McCain voted against an amendment that would create a reserve fund to allow for an increase in veterans medical care by $1.8 billion. The amendment failed 46-51. [SCR 95, Vote #40, 3/10/04]
  • McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For Veterans Health Programs By $1.8 Billion.  In 2003, McCain voted against an amendment that would reduce the amount provided for Iraqi reconstruction by $5.03 billion, and redirect that funding for domestic programs, including $1.8 billion for veterans’ health benefits. The motion to table the amendment passed 59-35. [S1689, Vote #379, 10/14/03]
  • McCain Voted Against Increasing Veterans’ Health Care Funding By $20.3 Billion.  In 2003, McCain voted against increasing spending on the veterans’ health care program TRICARE by $20.3 billion over 10 years to give members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families greater access to the health care program. The amendment failed 46-51. [SCR 23, Vote #81, 3/25/03]
  • McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For Veterans Programs By $1 Billion.  In 2003, McCain voted against increasing spending on veterans’ programs by approximately $1 billion and putting the same amount toward deficit reduction. The amount would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts. The amendment failed 49-51. [SCR 23, Vote #74, 3/21/03]
  • McCain Voted Against Shifting Funds To Provide Improved Veterans’ Health Benefits. In 1997, McCain voted to table an amendment that would require the Defense secretary to transfer $400 million to the secretary of Veteran’s Affairs in fiscal 1998 for veteran’s benefits. The motion to table passed 58-41. [S 936, Vote #168, 7/10/97]