Examining Presidential Candidates' Approaches To Health Care Reform

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In thesecond part of a series on health care in the 2008 presidential election, ABC's"World News" on Tuesday examined results of an ABCNews survey of presidential candidates' positions on health care-relatedissues. The segment included a discussion with Drew Altman, president and CEOof the Kaiser Family Foundation; Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund; and Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at Project HOPE.

Six Democratic and two Republican candidates responded to the survey, whichincluded questions on five issues:

  • Coverage for the uninsured;
  • Cost control;
  • Quality control;
  • Personal choice and responsibility; and
  • Electronic health records.


The survey found that Democratic candidates are "committed to universalcoverage," with a large role for the government and employers. Democrats'plans would cost between $60 billion and $110 billion annually, according to"World News." Republican candidates responding to the survey opposegovernment mandates requiring health insurance and support tax credits andpersonal health savings accounts to allow individuals to purchase policies.

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In addition, Democratic candidates said they support controlling costs andimproving quality through federal standards. Republican candidates saidfree-market competition between insurance companies would lead to improvementsin cost and quality. Candidates from both parties support the use of EHRs tocontrol costs and reduce medical errors, the survey found.

Davis said the Democrats' plans would cover 40million to 45 million U.S.residents, while the Republican plans would cover 10 million to 15 millionresidents. Altman said that no single plan would satisfy both Democrats andRepublicans and that a combination approach would be necessary to implementhealth care reform. Wilensky said health care reform under the next presidentultimately would depend on Congress and the president's willingness to reachout to lawmakers to develop a bipartisan agreement (Johnson, "WorldNews," ABC, 12/11).

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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