Developments In Presidential Campaign Related To Health Care

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Summaries of several recent developments in the presidential campaignrelated to health care appear below.

  • Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.): Dodd on Thursday in Iowa began to air two television advertisements, one of which features two actors who portray barbers and "take swipes" at a proposal by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. In the ad, the barbers watch a TV ad about the Clinton proposal. One barber asks, "Is that a new plan?" The second barber replies, "The only way you're going to get health care passed is to bring Democrats and Republicans together." The barbers conclude, "Why not Dodd?" (Glover, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1).

  • Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.): Edwards on Wednesday received the endorsement of the New Hampshire chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which represents a large number of health care workers, amid concerns about the validity of the vote, the AP/North County Times reports. Gary Smith, president of the New Hampshire SEIU chapter, told Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) that he had received the endorsement after an Oct. 23 vote, but, after a second vote on Tuesday that included members elected during the week, Edwards received the endorsement (Elliott, AP/North County Times, 11/1).

  • Obama: Obama on Thursday after a rally in Durham, N.C., refused to answer questions from reporters but responded to a question about health care from 5-year-old Hadassah Jones, the AP/Chronicle reports. Obama outlined his health care proposal for Jones and cited the need for high-income U.S. residents to help those who cannot afford care. He said, "We've got to make sure that people who have more money help the people who have less money," adding, "If you had a whole pizza, and your friend had no pizza, would you give him a slice?" (Baker, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1).

Divided We Fail Success

Leaders of the groups involved with Divided We Fail, a campaign that seeks to focus the 2008 presidential election onhealth care and financial security issues, on Thursday said that the effort hasprompted candidates from both parties to address their concerns, CongressDailyreports.

AARP CEO Bill Novelli saidthat most candidates have announced health care proposals and that the campaignwill continue through the general election to ensure "what we've got is apresidential winner who is committed to health care reform and retirementsecurity."

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Todd Stottlemyer -- president of the National Federation of IndependentBusiness, which joined the campaign thisweek -- said, "Small-business owners, their employees and dependents makeup the largest segment of the uninsured population, and we simply can't saythat health care is our top priority and be content with the stalemate overreform."

Other groups involved with the campaign include the Service Employees International Unionand the Business Roundtable (CongressDaily, 11/1).

Opinion Pieces Address Giuliani Ad

Two opinion pieces on Friday addressed a radio ad released bypresidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) inwhich he promotes his health care proposal and discusses his experience withprostate cancer. In the ad, which will begin to air on Tuesday in New Hampshire, Giulianisays, "I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago. My chance of survivingcancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States: 82%," adding, "My chances of survivingprostate cancer in England:only 44% under socialized medicine." The CommonwealthFund on Tuesday in a statementquestioned the accuracy of the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in Britain citedin the ad (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/31). Summaries of the opinion pieces appear below.

  • Paul Krugman, New York Times: The ad "is wrong on multiple levels -- bogus numbers wrapped in an invalid comparison embedded in a smear," Times columnist Krugman writes. According to Krugman, "comparisons with Britain have absolutely nothing to do with what the Democrats are proposing" because "none have proposed to make American doctors work for the government." Giuliani is "engaging in time-honored scare tactics," Krugman writes, adding, "By rights, then, Mr. Giuliani's false claims ... should be a major political scandal," but "they aren't being treated that way." Krugman writes, "Health care is the pre-eminent domestic issue for the 2008 election," adding, "Surely the American people deserve candidates who do their homework on the subject" (Krugman, New York Times, 11/2).

  • Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The ad cites a five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in Britain that is "not remotely true," an indication that Giuliani "is growing estranged from empirical fact," Post columnist Robinson writes. He adds, "I see two possibilities: One is that he believed what he wanted to believe -- that this huge supposed disparity in cancer outcomes fits so neatly into his worldview that it just had to be right." The second possibility is that "Giuliani didn't really care whether the figures made any sense or not" because he "invokes the specter of 'HillaryCare' ... almost as often as he reminds audiences of Sept. 11," Robinson writes. "For the record, I prefer our system of screening and testing" to the system in Britain, he writes, adding, "What I don't want is another president who refuses to let the facts get in the way of a good story" (Robinson, Washington Post, 11/2).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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