Arizona Sen. John McCain's office announced on Wednesday that he was diagnosed with brain cancer after a tumor was discovered following his surgery to remove a blood clot on Friday. Observing whether McCain's surgery would be covered under Trumpcare offers some much-needed insight into the repercussions the health care plan could evoke on the average citizen. Considering all we don't know about McCain's condition, the answer is a little bit complicated.
As ThinkProgress' Zack Ford noted, shortly after McCain's office first released word of his surgery, the initial clot (which ultimately led to the tumor being discovered) was found during a routine physical . That kind of physical is the sort of preventative care that has been expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is on the chopping block under Trumpcare. Already, many uninsured Americans go without those routine checkups.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said the Republican plan would essentially call for insurance companies to return to pre-Obamacare business as usual. This means health insurers would be allowed to once again sell insurance plans that do not cover the 10 "essential health benefits" outlined in Obamacare's requirements. Those requirements, again, were a huge reason more Americans stopped skipping the visits to the doctor.
McCain's procedures, so far, already have an intimidating price tag. Vox estimated that his care would cost an uninsured American about $76,000, with average Medicare payments ranging from $25,932 to $33,958. Considering the estimated millions of people who would been left without insurance under Trumpcare over the next decade, the plan could leave countless Americans in McCain's situation in the lurch.
Additionally, Sen. McCain's previous experience with melanoma could also put him in the category of Americans with preexisting conditions who, under Trumpcare, would be at risk of being charged higher premiums. As the Kaiser Family Foundation noted in its list of pre-existing conditions, "Cancer within some period of time" was on the list of "Declinable Conditions In the Medically Underwritten Individual Market, Before the Affordable Care Act."
While McCain himself never fully committed to supporting the Republican bill, he remained critical of Obamacare and just about any plan birthed entirely from one side of the political spectrum. As he said in a statement on Tuesday, following word that Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran wouldn't support the bill:
One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare's failure. The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.
John McCain Surgery Would Cost $110,979 Without Insurance -
by 2Paragraphs in Daily Edition | July 17, 2017
Sen. John McCain has survived things few men have, and the surgery he had on Friday to remove a blood clot was first reported as being a run-of-the-mill sort of thing for the 80-year-old lawmaker from Arizona. McCain's surgery was mainly news for its effect on the GOP healthcare bill, which majority leader Mitch McConnell has delayed voting on until McCain returns to his Senate seat.
Subsequent reports, however, say that the "minimally invasive craniotomy" with an eyebrow incision (as McCain's site described it) is possibly more serious than first reported. A craniotomy, of course, is an opening of the skull. A blood clot in the frontal lobes, where McCain's evidently was, could be cause for major, not minor, concern. And not just health concerns - for the average citizen a craniotomy would also cause serious financial concerns. It's worth noting, as McCain's condition delays the healthcare bill, that a craniotomy at Johns Hopkins Hospital costs $45,077.75. That's a lot of money. But McCain was treated at the Mayo Clinic. Using the Mayo Clinic-provided online cost estimator, a craniotomy like McCain's would cost an uninsured patient at the Mayo Clinic an average price of $110,979 - with an estimated range of between $95,877 and $169,468.