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Clinton, Obama Criticize Each Other's Health Care Proposals

Armen Hareyan's picture

Presidentialcandidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) thisweekend "intensified the bickering" over the differences in theirhealth care proposals, the AP/Boston Globe reports.

Clinton onSunday in an interview with the Associated Press said, "Thedifference is my health care plan covers every American and Sen. Obama's planwill not. He leaves 15 million people uncovered" because his proposalwould not require all U.S.residents to obtain health insurance. In addition, she said, "It's a plancrafted for politics, not for people."

During an appearance at a Council Bluffs, Iowa, school on Saturday, Obama said,"The reason Americans don't have health insurance isn't because they don'twant it, it's because they can't afford it, which is why my plan doesn't have amandate and goes further in cutting costs than any other proposal offered inthis race" (Glover, AP/Boston Globe, 11/25). He said,"Now, there may be a few people in our country, maybe young people whothink they're going to live forever, who decide not to get health insuranceeven when it's affordable," adding, "If we see people are still notcovered when we make it affordable, than we will figure out how to make surethat everybody is covered" (Tysver, Omaha World-Herald, 11/24). In addition, he said that Clinton has not specifiedpenalties for residents who do not obtain health insurance under her proposal (AP/BostonGlobe, 11/25).

Clinton said,"I'm going to negotiate with the Congress over that because differentpeople in Congress have different approaches about how to do that" (Roug, Los Angeles Times, 11/26).

Giuliani on Romney

Presidential candidate andformer New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) on Sunday said that presidentialcandidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) "made a mistake"with a recently implemented state health insurance law that requires allresidents to obtain coverage. The law, which took effect July 1, requires thatall state residents obtain health insurance this year or face possible taxpenalties after Jan. 1, 2008, with subsidies for lower-income residents.

Giuliani said that Romney "sort of did Hillary's plan in Massachusetts." He added, "Whenyou mandate it, it ends up costing you much more money" (Van Sack, Boston Herald, 11/26). On Saturday, Giulianicriticized Romney for his efforts to distance himself from the law. "Whenyou look back on Romney's governorship of Massachusetts, there's only oneaccomplishment, and he's running away from that," he said.

Romney said, "I was just across the country this week talking about myplan," adding, "I'm very proud of my health care plan and think itshould be a model for other states to adopt." He also said that Giulianihas not announced a detailed health care proposal (Balz, Washington Post, 11/26).

Clinton Announces Autism Proposal

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Clinton on Saturday announced a proposal to helpfamilies of children with autism and expand research into the causes of thedisease, the AP/Washington Examiner reports. The proposal, which wouldincrease annual spending on autism programs to $700 million, would expandresearch into the causes of the disease, improve education and early detectionefforts, and train teachers to instruct students with autism.

"Parents will no longer be burdened by unmanageable premiums just becausetheir children have autism," Clintonsaid. According to Clinton,"we don't know how to cure it, and we don't even know the best ways totreat it." She added, "I think it's time we had a government and apresident who recognized the seriousness of autism and addressed ithead-on" (Lorentzen, AP/Washington Examiner, 11/25).

Cancer in Politics

The Chicago Tribune on Sunday examined how, with "healthcare a chief concern for many voters, cancer advocates now are able to shapethe debate as never before." According to the Tribune,patients have "banded together with cancer survivors and advocates toinfluence elections, policy and science" on issues such as health carereform, research funds and improved screening.

The Tribune also examined the efforts of cyclist and cancersurvivor Lance Armstrong, whose foundation organized a forum of presidentialcandidates in August (Weber, Chicago Tribune, 11/25). The Lance Armstrong Foundation had accumulated almost $60 millionin assets at the end of last year (Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 11/24).

Opinion Pieces

  • Manchester Union Leader: Obama "deserves credit not only for refusing to offer the false hope of 'universal coverage' but for pointing out that his rivals are offering empty promises," according to a Union Leader editorial. According to the editorial, "as Massachusetts is discovering, passing a law to require that people get health insurance," as Clinton has proposed, "will not make all people get it." Obama "doesn't pretend his health care plan is a panacea" and "resists the temptation to promise the impossible -- provide universal coverage and control costs -- and for that he should be commended," the editorial states (Manchester Union Leader, 11/25).

  • Caroline Poplin, Miami Herald: The major Democratic presidential candidates have "converged on a model of health care reform," the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Poplin, a visiting scholar at Georgetown University, writes in a Herald opinion piece, adding, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is." According to Poplin, FEHBP "works, not because of its ingenious structure, but because it serves a classic insurance market -- a large group of mostly healthy people gathered together for a purpose other than buying insurance." She adds, "If it were opened to the public, the sickest people most in need of insurance would quickly sign up, premiums would rise and insurance companies would set new limits to discourage costly patients (Poplin, Miami Herald, 11/22).

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.