Obama Talks About Problems With Health Care Costs

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Health Care Costs

Presidentialcandidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Wednesday at The Common Man restaurantin Concord, N.H., assembled six New Hampshire voters who told their storiesabout problems with health care costs and other issues, The Politico reports (Budoff Brown, The Politico,12/20).

At the event, Sandra Burt, who last summer turned 65 and lost her manufacturingjob, told Obama that she and her husband cannot afford their monthlyprescription drug costs of $2,900 or heat for their home. Obama called hersituation "outrageous" and criticized health insurers, pharmaceuticalcompanies and other special interests for the problems with the health caresystem (Helman, Boston Globe, 12/20).

He said, "Nobody expects government to do everything for them. What peopledo expect is if you are working hard and doing the right thing, then you shouldbe able to retire with dignity and respect and have some basic healthcare." In addition, he said, "I know I can fix it if I've got theAmerican people understanding that it needs to be fixed."

According to The Politico, Burt "has become a bit of amini-celebrity since August, when she lost her job, showed up at a rally"for presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), and"detailed her plight for the crowd." Burt later appeared in a radioadvertisement for AARP and works with New Hampshire for Health Care, an advocacy project sponsored bythe Service Employees International Union (The Politico, 12/20).

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Poll Gauges Top Issues,Health Priorities in Campaign

The December Kaiser HealthTracking Poll: Election 2008 finds that Iraq continues to top the list ofissues the public wants to hear presidential candidates discuss. According tothe poll, 35% of U.S.residents named the Iraqwar as one of the top two issues in an open-ended question. Thirty percent saidhealth care was one of the top two issues, followed by the economy (21%) andimmigration (17%). Health care continues to rank second behind Iraq forRepublicans, Democrats and independents alike. However, while health ranksclearly ahead of the economy and immigration for Democrats, it is more tightlypacked with these issues for Republicans.

In addition, the poll found that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) continuesto be the candidate most associated with the health care issue, with 39% sayingshe is the candidate who is "placing the biggest emphasis on health careissues." No other candidate, Democrat or Republican, is mentioned by morethan 5% of the public on this question. On the separate question of whichcandidate best represents their own health care views, Clinton was named by 22% of the publicoverall and by nearly four in 10 Democrats. Former New York City Mayor RudyGiuliani is the top pick among Republican candidates, with 5% of the public and9% of Republicans saying he best represents their health care views.

This latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008 was designed andanalyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Anationally representative random sample of 1,221 adults was interviewed bytelephone between Nov. 28 and Dec. 9. The margin of sampling error for thesurvey is plus or minus three percentage points; for results based on subgroups,the sampling error is higher.

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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