In Ohio, Candidate McCain Talks Health Care

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Cancer survivor and multiple Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is holding a Live-strong Summit in Columbus. The event began last night with Armstrong hosting a presidential town hall meeting on cancer. Republican candidate John McCain attended the meeting. Democrat Barack Obama did not because he’s traveling in Europe.

Presumptive presidential nominee John McCain, a Republican, got in a few digs at his Democratic opponent during the town hall meeting Thursday night.

“In a scene that Lance would recognize, a throng of adoring fans awaits Senator Obama in Paris,” McCain said. “And that’s just the American press.”

Both candidates were invited to attended, Armstrong said. He reminded the audience that the Lance Armstrong Foundation is non-profit and non-partisan.

“In this election, cancer does not care if you’re a republican or a democrat,” Armstrong said. “If you’re young or you’re old, you’re rich or you’re poor, it doesn’t care. Our job is to give candidates a forum to discuss it, discuss their experience and discuss their plan.”

In prepared remarks, McCain gave a brief outline of his health care plan which he describes as innovative, portable and affordable.

“I believe the key to real reform is to restore control over our health care system to the patients themselves. Under my plan we will build on the employer based coverage by offering generous tax credits directly to individuals and families for the purchase of health insurance. The health care plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could chose for you or even better. By providing incentives for coverage of wellness, prevention and other methods of avoiding the onset of chronic disease these health plans would be yours and yours to keep,” McCain said.

John McCain is a cancer survivor. He had skin cancer surgery eight years ago. As part of the town hall meeting, McCain took questions from other cancer survivors including Armstrong.

“For the third year in a row the current administration has shrunk the budget at the National Cancer Institute – this is a fact,” Armstrong said. “If you are elected president, will we continue to see that trend? Or will we reverse the trend and actually increase funding at the National Cancer Institute?”

“We will reverse that trend,” McCain replied.

McCain went on to say that a better method of allocating money would increase the likelihood that greater progress could be made battling cancer.

Part of the evening’s discussion involved one of the biggest killers – the cancers caused by tobacco. McCain criticized state governments for diverting tobacco settlement funds away from prevention and treatment. Asked if he favored increasing the tax on cigarettes, McCain said this:

“I don’t think I would. I would have to be confident before I would consider it that it would not be taken by the Congress and put into general revenues. The way the states have done with the tobacco taxes they impose and they put it into general revenues. So the first thing that would have to happen, I would have to be assured that the money would be taken and put in the right place. And to tell you the truth I am not confident that the Congress of the United States would do that.”

McCain’s health care proposal did not persuade a group of demonstrators on High Street who protested the Senator’s appearance. Before the town hall meeting began they were waving signs and chanting slogans.

“John McCain you can’t hide; We can see your plan’s a lie.”

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