Discussing Health Care Proposals From Presidential Candidates

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Summaries of three opinion pieces about health care proposals frompresidential candidates and related issues appear below.

  • Morton Kondracke, Roll\tCall: "While the political world is fixated this\tweekend on what the Iowa caucus results mean for New Hampshire,"\ta "really useful" meeting will occur at the University\tof Oklahoma, where a "bipartisan group of moderate\tex-politicians is gathering to discuss how to solve the top policy\tproblems facing America," some of which involve health care,\tRoll Call Executive Editor Kondracke writes in an\topinion piece. According to Kondracke, on health care issues, the\tgroup could propose to: "Means-test Medicare benefits and use\tthe soon-to-be-insolvent Medicare system to prod the U.S. health\tcare industry toward rewarding providers for keeping people healthy,\tnot simply treating illness"; reform the U.S. health care\tsystem by "making private insurance coverage mandatory, with\ttax credits available for people and small businesses that can't\tafford premiums"; help cover the cost of reform by "eliminating\ttax breaks for so-called 'Cadillac' health plans"; and\tcomputerize all medical records and "make data on hospitals,\tdrugs, treatments and doctors available online" (Kondracke,\tRoll Call, 1/2).

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  • Robert Novak, Washington\tPost: Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton\t(D-N.Y.) enters the Iowa caucuses on Thursday "not as the\tinevitable Democratic presidential nominee but seriously challenged\t... thanks in no small part to committing a strategic error:\tpremature triangulation" in her health care proposal, columnist\tNovak writes in a Post opinion piece. He writes that a\t"longtime Democratic consultant, not involved in any campaign\tthis time" suggested to a campaign "intermediary"\tthat Clinton propose a "genuine universal health care scheme"\t-- under which U.S. residents "would be covered by Medicare,\texcept those who chose to retain their private health insurance\tplans." Instead, according to Novak, Clinton "prematurely\tintroduced a general election strategy when in fact the party\tnomination was still in doubt." According to Novak, although\ther "current call for mandatory health care coverage might seem\tradical," the proposal is "criticized on the left as\tembracing 'shared responsibility' with private health insurance\tfirms (similar to plans by Republican Govs. Mitt Romney in\tMassachusetts and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California)" (Novak,\tWashington Post, 1/3). \t

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  • Gary Andres, Washington\tTimes: "America nears a tipping point on health care\tpolicy as 2008 begins," but the proposals from the presidential\tcandidates "sound more like marketing plans for candidates in\tprimaries than strategies to advance legislation in Washington,"\tAndres, vice chair of research and policy for Dutko\tWorldwide, writes in a Times opinion piece. "Unlike\tsome other narrower issues, reform in the wide-reaching area of\thealth care policy will wither absent bipartisan irrigation and\tdeeper conversation with voters," Andres writes, adding,\t"Unfortunately in this highly charged political season, many\tonly focus on scoring political points rather than outlining a\trealistic plan for success." The Healthy Americans Act,\tco-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Robert Bennett\t(R-Utah), represents one of the "best examples" of\t"combining a sound policy proposal with a realistic plan to\tnavigate the political process," according to Andres. Wyden and\tother supporters of the bill "deserve commendation"\tbecause they have proposed "big changes in American health\tcare, transformations that will take time and shake up the current\tsystem," he writes. He adds that "soothing American\tanxiety about the enormity of these reforms requires more public\tunderstanding," which "happens by locking bipartisan arms,\tnot crossing political swords" (Andres, Washington Times,\t1/3).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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