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John McCain, Joe Biden, hair plugs, bank rules and gold-plated health insurance plans

October 8, 2008 |  2:51 pm

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pauses during the debate with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) at the Town Hall Presidential Debate October 7, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images_3_2 During a discussion of health insurance in Tuesday night's presidential debate, Sen. John McCain made a joke -- or at least it seemed like a joke -- about hair plugs.

Here is what he said:

And if you do the math, those people who have employer-based health benefits -- if you put the tax on it, and you have what's left over, and you add $5,000 that you're going to get as a refundable tax credit, do the math.

"Ninety-five percent of the American people will have increased funds to go out and buy the insurance of their choice and to shop around and to get -- all those people will be covered, except for those who have these gold-plated Cadillac kinds of policies -- you know, like hair transplants. I might need one of those myself.

Was this a not-so-subtle reminder that a certain member of the rival presidential ticket is known to have engaged in follicular enhancement?

Is McCain suggesting that the healthcare plan enjoyed by the United States senators includes payments for cosmetic enhancements such as hair transplants?

Generally speaking, hair transplants are considered elective surgery, and are not covered by insurance except in cases of burns or injury.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) (R) adjusts his hair during his sound check at the end of day two of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Pepsi Center August 26, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) 
_2_2Incidentally, Biden's name did not come up another time, in a conversation about federal regulation, when Obama mentioned his running mate's home state in a not altogether flattering way:

Now, the final point I'll make on this whole issue of government intrusion and mandates -- it is absolutely true that I think it is important for government to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their customers, that don't give you the fine print, so you end up thinking that you're paying for something and, when you finally get sick and you need it, you're not getting it.

And the reason that it's a problem to go shopping state by state, you know what insurance companies will do? They will find a state -- maybe Arizona, maybe another state -- where there are no requirements for you to get cancer screenings, where there are no requirements for you to have to get pre-existing conditions, and they will all set up shop there.

That's how, in banking, it works. Everybody goes to Delaware, because they've got very -- pretty loose laws when it comes to things like credit cards.

Were both men obliquely picking on Biden? If so, how come no one picked on McCain's running mate? She wasn't mentioned or alluded to by either of the candidates.

-- Robin Abcarian

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