Richardson Discusses Health Care Proposal During Forum

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Presidentialcandidate New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) on Monday during a forum in Washington, D.C.,organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals discussed his proposal to expandhealth insurance to all U.S.residents, CQ HealthBeat reports. During the forum, Richardson said, "Iabsolutely believe that all Americans should have quality, affordable healthcare."

He said that he would not seek to establish a health care system administeredby the federal government because "we can get a better bang for the buckbefore going with something new." In addition, Richardson said that he would take a"market-based" approach to health care focused on "rapidlyexpanding coverage through current models." Under his proposal, companieswould have to offer health insurance to employees and in some cases wouldreceive tax credits in exchange.

Health insurers also could not deny coverage to applicants because ofpre-existing medical conditions. The proposal also would provide veterans witha "heroes health card" that would allow them to receive care athealth care facilities outside of the Department ofVeterans Affairsnetwork.

Richardson said that he would finance theproposal with savings from increased use of electronic health records, theelimination of tax cuts for higher-income residents, a shift in funds from thewar in Iraqand the elimination of congressional earmarks (Walker, CQ HealthBeat,11/19).

Richardson alsocriticized health savings accounts as "a step backward" and said they"put working families at risk" because most "cannot afford topay the ... out-of-pocket costs" (Goldstein, "Health Blog," WallStreet Journal, 11/19).

The forums' organizers have invited all of the presidential candidates toparticipate. The Kaiser Family Foundation hosts the forums in its BarbaraJordan Conference Center in Washington, D.C. Kaiser is webcasting the forumslive through kaisernetwork.org, its health policy news and information service.Susan Dentzer of PBS' "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer" will moderate the forums, andadditional panelists will include journalists from NPR, Wall Street Journal and ABC News. Liveand archived webcasts of the six forums held to date, as well as additionalinformation about them, are available on a dedicated Web site, http://presidentialforums.health08.org. The forums are being funded by The California Endowment and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report,11/1).

Clinton in Nevada

Presidential candidate Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) recently at a Nevadaelementary school discussed her health care proposal, the Nevada Appeal reports (Maresh, NevadaAppeal, 11/18).

Under the proposal, which would require all residents to obtain healthinsurance, large employers would have to offer coverage to employees orcontribute to a federal fund that would help workers purchase coverage. Inaddition, the proposal would provide tax subsidies to small businesses to helpcover the cost of health insurance for employees. The proposal also would allowemployers to select health plans from a network of private plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or a public plan modeled on Medicare (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 9/24).

Clinton said,"I believe, if it is good enough for Congress, it is good enough foranyone" (Nevada Appeal, 11/18).

Iowa Poll

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The top candidates remain"locked in a close battle in Iowa,"according to a WashingtonPost/ABC News poll released on Monday, the Post reports (Washington Post/ABC News poll). The poll -- similar to results from July --provides "harbingers of concern for Clinton,"according to the Post. "The factors that have made Clintonthe clear national front-runner -- including her overwhelming leads on theissues of the Iraq war and health care, a widespread sense that she is theDemocrats' most electable candidate, and her strong support among women -- donot appear to be translating on the ground in Iowa," the Postreports.

Twenty-six percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers cited health care as themost important issue in their choice for president, second to the war in Iraq(Kornblut/Cohn, Washington Post, 11/20).

Republican Health CareProposals

The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday examined how the"Achilles' heel" of the health care proposals announced by the majorRepublican presidential candidates is their "dependence on the privatemarket, which often rejects applicants with health problems."

According to the Times, the health care proposals announced byRepublican candidates seek to increase the number of residents who purchaseprivate insurance through tax incentives, but the plans "generally pickthe healthiest applicants and turn the rest away." For example, cancersurvivors -- "even if they have been free of disease for several years --are routinely denied health insurance when they try to purchase it asindividuals," the Times reports.

Karen Pollitz, a Georgetown University researcher specializing in thefield, said, "Most companies won't touch you if you have a cancer historywithin five years, and with some companies ... if you've ever had cancer, youcan't get coverage" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times,11/20).

Opinion Pieces

  • Clinton, Des Moines Register: U.S. residents "need a president who's been tested -- who's ready to lead on day one and fight for results every day in the White House" -- and as president "I'll set four big goals for our country," such as the expansion of health care insurance to all residents, Clinton writes in a Register opinion piece. She adds that she will seek to improve "scientific innovation -- including stem cell research -- so that our children can benefit from cures, discoveries and technologies that we couldn't even dream of today." Clinton concludes, "Together, we can build the future our children and grandchildren deserve" (Clinton, Des Moines Register, 11/20).

  • E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: The major Democratic presidential candidates have used "their rather small differences to highlight larger contrasts in experience, temperament and character," Post columnist Dionne writes. He writes, "All support some sort of universal health coverage," although Clinton and Edwards would require all residents to obtain coverage and Obama would not. According to Dionne, "Edwards and Clinton are right about the mandate, but most voters will focus on which candidate is likely to get any kind of universal health care passed" (Dionne, Washington Post, 11/20).


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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