As John McCain prepares to flesh out his health-reform policies during a Tuesday speech in Tampa, Fla., Democrats see pre-existing conditions as his Achilles' heel.
Unlike plans offered by Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, McCain would not require insurance companies to cover individuals without regard to pre-existing conditions.
Instead, he is proposing to create a subsidized high-risk insurance pool.
"We're not leaving anybody behind," McCain recently told ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "We will, as part of our plan, have a special Medicaid trust fund set up to help care for those people who have pre-existing conditions."
Although McCain refers to his proposal as a "Medicaid trust fund," he is not proposing to enroll people with pre-existing conditions in the federal-state program for the poor.
His plan, according to his senior policy adviser, is to "improve the kinds of backstops" that exist in some states but not all.
"The key is to make sure there is more money on the table in this contract between the insurer in this higher cost risk pool and the individual," McCain senior policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin told ABC News. "Whether that money comes first to the individual and then heads over to the insurer, or if the federal government simply directly gives it to the insurer, is an administrative detail," he added.
While McCain has begun to outline his plan for Americans with pre-existing conditions, he has not made a final decision as to who would qualify for help.
"The senator is still working through the details of the exact cut-offs and eligibility requirements," said Holtz-Eakin. "The senator is going to make his final decision on eligibility criteria coming up in the next couple of months."
Funding for McCain's trust fund depends on savings being produced under Medicaid.
"McCain's proposal will be to use some of the savings that would come out of the Medicaid program, because people are now in private insurance, and to develop a federal backstop -- a program that would give high cost individuals an insurance policy," said Holtz-Eakin. "Insurers that participate in the program would receive higher premiums."
It is unclear whether the Medicaid savings McCain envisions would put enough "money on the table" to persuade insurers to accept those with pre-existing conditions at an affordable price.
"Regardless of how you set up the trust fund you have to fund it appropriately and for me that will be the biggest issue," said Mohit Ghose, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group representing insurers. "There has to be some money as an upfront investment."
Clinton Bags Easley:
Hillary Clinton's North Carolina campaign received a major boost on Monday when the A.P. reported that Gov. Mike Easley (D) plans to throw his support to the former first lady.
Easley's Tuesday endorsement, which will be delivered in Raleigh, N.C., comes on the same day that the North Carolina GOP plans to launch a television ad tarring the two Democrats hoping to succeed Easley by connecting them to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Easley, who is termed out this year, is a Democratic superdelegate who was elected in 2000.
Watch the North Carolina GOP's ad here.
Monday TiVo alert:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) appears on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
"I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we're not coordinating with him."
--Barack Obama speaking about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on the tarmac in Wilmington, N.C.
On the campaign front. . .
-- Attends town hall meeting with voters, Winston-Salem, NC
-- Attends town hall meeting with voters, Hickory, NC
-- Attends event in Indianapolis, IN
-- Attends event in Hobart, IN
-- Attends event in Princeton, IN
-- Attends event in Boone, NC
-- 5:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, North Wilkesboro, NC
-- Attends event in Elkin, NC
-- 8:15 pm ET: Attends event in Mount Airy, NC
As for the Republicans. . .
-- 10:00 am ET: Delivers speech at event, Tampa, FL
At the White House and Beyond. . .
-- 1:15 pm ET: Meets with special representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Afghanistan, Washington, DC
-- 1:50 pm ET: Delivers remarks on National Volunteer Week, Washington, DC
FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NEWT GINGRICH
-- Appears on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Nitya Venkataraman: Racial Tensions Threaten to Divide Democrats LINK
ABC News' Teddy Davis and Mike Elmore: McCain Grapples with Gaps in Health Plan LINK
ABC News' Sunlen Miller: Obama Pushes New Populist Message to NC Voters LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: McCain Tries to Have It Both Ways on Rev. Wright LINK
ABC News' Sunlen Miller: Obama Says McCain Has "Gall" for Criticisms over Gas Tax Holiday LINK
ABC News' Eloise Harper: Clinton Tip-Toes Around Rev. Wright Issue LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Wright Assails Media, Cheney, Obama at National Press Club LINK
ABC News' Sunlen Miller: Obama (Jokingly) Picks Running Mate LINK
POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM
Obama Fights McCain's 'Out of Touch' Charge
Obama says McCain's support of the gas tax holiday won't fix the problem. LINK
Obama Makes Populist Pitch
Struggling to win working-class voters, Obama tries to appeal to Wilmington, NC. LINK
Rev. Wright Speaks Out
Are Rev. Wright's remarks a firestorm for the Sen. Obama campaign? LINK
Hasselbeck: Pastor's Words 'Despicable'
"View" co-host still finds fault with remarks made by Obama's ex-pastor. LINK
Wright Jokes About VP Slot
Obama's former pastor on why he's not holding back, Farrakhan & the '08 VP slot. LINK
Democrats Look for Solutions
DNC chairman Howard Dean discusses Sens. Clinton's and Obama's campaigns. LINK
Divided Democrats Fight On
Is the Democratic infighting tearing the party apart? LINK
The Bottom Line
George Stephanopoulos gives you the skinny on race for the democratic nomination. LINK
The President's Last Laugh
President Bush jokes at his last White House Correspondents Dinner. LINK
Clinton and Obama's Battle Wages On
Democrats worry that this long battle for a candidacy will hurt the party. LINK
McCain's Healthcare Plan
McCain unveils his new healthcare plan. LINK
Assassination Attempt on President of Afghanistan
There was an assassination attempt on Karzai by the Taliban. LINK
Greenroom: Not Having Fun
Behind the scenes with George Will, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, Maureen Dowd. LINK
Clinton, Obama Surrogates Debate
Sen. Bayh, Ex-Sen. Daschle, and Reps. Davis, Jackson Lee boost their candidates. LINK
Roundtable: Pennsylvania Fallout
George Will, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd and Maureen Dowd. LINK