Presidential Candidates Address Health Care Issues

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Summariesof several recent developments in the presidential campaign related to healthcare appear below.

  • Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.): Clinton on Tuesday during an appearance at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago said that as president she would increase regulations on health insurers, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Clinton said, "We're going to tell the insurance companies that they're going to have to change the way they do business." She asked, "How many of you have health insurance but you had to fight with the health insurance company to get it to pay for what you needed?" adding, "When you really need it, they won't pay. What point is it to have health insurance if you're diabetic and they won't cover diabetes?" (Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/19).
  • Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R): Giuliani on Monday during an appearance at a town hall meeting in Durham, N.H., sponsored by Goss International said that his proposal to provide U.S. residents with tax incentives to purchase private health insurance would reduce health care costs, Foster's Daily Democrat reports. According to Giuliani, the proposal would provide residents with a choice of health insurance and would increase competition among health insurers, which would reduce health care costs (Foster's Daily Democrat, 12/18).
  • Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): Paul on Tuesday after a meeting with the Linn County, Iowa, Medical Society said that as president he would not promote preventive health care, the Des Moines Register reports. Paul, a former Air Force flight surgeon and obstetrician, said, "I couldn't promote it," adding, "I want the patient to make the decision." In addition, he said, "When I talk around the country, people talk about the high cost of medical care. You can't look at this without looking at inflation." According to Paul, health care costs have continued to increase because of government regulations. He said that he supports a system in which the government provides health insurance for low-income U.S. residents and higher-income residents purchase private coverage and use health savings accounts to cover out-of-pocket costs (Jordan, Des Moines Register, 12/19).

Opinion Pieces

  • Jim Jaffe, Baltimore Sun: "While presidential candidates natter about health reforms that focus on insuring more Americans, a quiet but potentially very disruptive shift in defining the problem is under way," Jaffe, vice president of public affairs for the Center for the Advancement of Health, writes in a Sun opinion piece. According to Jaffe, the "long-standing conventional wisdom that rising health care costs are inevitable as the population ages is being challenged by a view that patients in comparable conditions are simply consuming a lot more care than they once did -- without an improvement in their health status." Jaffe writes, "The idea that doing less for patients" could improve their health and reduce costs "has been quietly bouncing around in the health policy community for years," but "there's been a reluctance to discuss it in public, lest it be defined as 'rationing' -- typically perceived as denying patients care they need." He adds that, with a recent increase in support for the "less is better" view, "any debate about health reform in Congress next year could be very different from what presidential candidates are promoting today," Jaffe concludes (Jaffe, Baltimore Sun, 12/19).
  • Dick Polman, Philadelphia Inquirer: "Just when it appears" that presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) "might be the man of conviction that grassroots Republicans are yearning for, we get the news that he was once a wholly owned subsidiary of the tobacco industry," Inquirer columnist Polman writes. According to Polman, in 1994, when Huckabee served as lieutenant governor of Arkansas, "R.J. Reynolds helped finance a nonprofit organization that paid Huckabee to crisscross the country and attack Hillary Clinton's health care plan." The role of Reynolds in the campaign "was kept secret for years," but J.J. Vigneault, a former Huckabee adviser, has begun "talking openly about how the tobacco giant put money in Huckabee's pocket," Polman writes. He adds that Reynolds "has now confirmed it" (Polman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/18).
  • John Sweeney, Wilmington News-Journal: "Supposedly the 2008 election will be the one that turns health care around in this country," but U.S. residents should not "bet on it," News-Journal columnist Sweeney writes. According to Sweeney, "experts predict the coming battle will involve all of the 'stakeholders' in the health system" -- the "poor working man and woman who can't afford health insurance," as well as "medical professionals, hospitals, insurance companies, government bureaucrats, businesses, elected officials, policymakers, drug companies and medical equipment suppliers." The health care proposals of the presidential candidates will "move toward the center for the general election," he writes, adding, "Hordes of special interests will lay in wait for any plan the president actually delivers to Congress," and some "stakeholders are more equal than others" (Sweeney, Wilmington News-Journal, 12/14).

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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