A lot remains unsettled as the primaries creep toward the general election. At least on the left side of the aisle.

But the race is all but over as far as the Republicans are concerned. Don’t let the incessant buzzing of Mike Huckabee fool you – his lingering bid is nothing more than an annoying protest vote from the extreme right and disgruntled evangelicals.

That being said, it’s time we took a closer look at nominee John McCain’s position when it comes to health care.

After a closer look, one of the first things you realize is that Sen. McCain’s ideas – at least on this topic – aren’t nearly as far to the left as the talk-radio doomsayers would have you believe. Limbaugh or Hannity exaggerating; shocking, I know.

McCain is the only candidate left standing not pushing for universal or any other kind of mandated coverage. Now, while that alone sets him apart, McCain’s backing of the free-market approach should lift him to the front of the pack. His camp appears to be saying all the right things: stronger push for individual responsibility while offering $2,500 in refundable tax credits for those same individuals, better support for health savings accounts and higher cigarette taxes to help pay the bills.

McCain, and his position here, deserves a closer look. Unless you prefer more government mandates.