Republican Presidential Candidates Discuss Health Care

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NineRepublican presidential candidates on Wednesday during a debate in Iowa sponsored by the DesMoines Register and Iowa Public Television discussed health care andother issues, the AP/Kansas City Star reports.

During the debate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that he wouldreduce federal spending for health care and other domestic programs by as muchas 15% (AP/Kansas City Star, 12/13). Giuliani also said that hewould seek to provide U.S.residents with more "ownership" of their health care, "ratherthan relying on government as the nanny government." He added, "Let'srely on people to make choices about their health care. That's an Americansolution" (Helman, Boston Globe, 12/13).

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cited the need to focus on preventive healthcare (Cooper/Luo, New York Times, 12/13).

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said that health care costs are"going through the roof" and that "we need to reduce the burdenon middle-income families in this country."

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.)said that as president he would seek to reduce the cost of Medicare. He saidthat "we've got to look at ... Medicare and do some things now that won'thurt anybody badly but will save it for the next generation" (Associated Press, 12/12). In addition, he said thathe would eliminate Medicare eligibility for seniors with the highest incomelevels (Thomma, Miami Herald, 12/12).

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), former Ambassador Alan Keyes, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) also participated in the debate (AssociatedPress, 12/12). The debate, moderated by Register editorCarolyn Washburn, marked the last forum that will feature all of the Republicancandidates before the Iowa caucuses next month(Kiely, USA Today, 12/13).

A CNN transcript of the complete debate is available online (, 12/12). Iowa Public Television video highlights and expanded coverage of the debate also are available online (Iowa Public Television, 12/12).

Romney Promises ToAddress Health Care Within Four Years

Romney on Tuesday at a houseparty in Johnston, Iowa,said that as president he would expand health insurance to all U.S. residentswithin four years. According to "The Trail," Romney "braggedthat more than two-thirds of the uninsured" in Massachusetts, where in 2006 he signed a lawthat requires all residents to obtain health insurance, "are nowcovered." He said, "I'll battle to get that done in every state inthe country."

In addition, the Romney campaign has begun to distribute a new mailer in Iowa that depicts him asthe candidate most able to expand health insurance to all residents. Themailer, titled "Promises, Promises," says that "everyday inIowa, presidential candidates make promises to expand health carecoverage," adding that, "as governor, Mitt Romney created the firstcomprehensive health care reform program in the country" (Bacon, "TheTrail," Washington Post, 12/12).


Editorial ExaminesRomney Record

"During hispresidential run, Mr. Romney continues to move sharply to the right" onhealth care and other issues, according to a Washington Times editorial.

For example, as governor of Massachusetts,Romney signed a health insurance law that "includes a mixture of biggovernment mandates" and a "heavily subsidized premium assistanceprogram," the editorial states. However, the editorial states, the lawalso includes a "number of critical market reforms, which includepermitting HMOs to offer high-deductible plans tied to health savings accounts."

According to the editorial, based on his past record, his "major challengein the coming weeks will be persuading more conservatives that he is the mostplausible Republican nominee" (Washington Times, 12/13).


American Public Media's"Marketplace" on Wednesday included acommentary by Robert Reich, a secretary of labor under former PresidentClinton, about the health care proposals of Democratic presidential candidates.According to Reich, the candidates agree on most issues related to health carereform but continue "squabbling" over whether to require individualsto obtain health insurance.

He concludes that, to implement health care reform, "Democrats need tostart building a movement in support of the big and important reforms universalhealth insurance requires -- on which Democrats happen to agree" (Reich,"Marketplace," American Public Media," 12/12).

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