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The other John McCain would be for this Senate healthcare bill. The one who didn’t have his health benefits provided by the …um…government. The one who isn’t married to a stinking rich heiress. Matt Miller imagines this John McCain from that alternate universe. He probably would also be a Democrat.

Suppose McCain had been voted out of office in 1992 after the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal sullied his reputation. He was then 56 years old. And suppose that McCain didn’t have his wife’s enormous wealth to insulate him from the exorbitant health premiums a man with his pre-existing conditions would have faced. Or that he couldn’t go back to work and enjoy access to group health coverage at the giant beer distributorship his wife’s family owns (where McCain worked before he first ran for public office). In such circumstances, you can bet McCain would have been grateful for the chance buy into Medicare to protect himself and his family from medical and financial ruin.

If every aging, displaced worker in America had McCain’s incumbency or inherited wealth to fall back on, it’s true—the ability to buy into Medicare would be superfluous. But most Americans aren’t in the Senate or married to an heiress. For most Americans, losing a job (and health coverage) in your late 50s or early 60s spells catastrophe


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