Report Features Recent Developments In Presidential Campaign Related To Health Care

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Summariesof recent developments in the presidential campaign related to health careappear below.

  • Democratic health care proposals: Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on Thursday said that the health care proposals from several Democratic candidates resemble a plan he has posted on his Web site, the AP/Billings Gazette reports. "In the debates ... when they've talked about health care, those that have talked about it -- and had any specificity -- have kind of used the words that are in my 10-step plan," Enzi told Associated Press reporters. He said that Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) "revised what she has said before -- now throws in this private sector approach as well." Both the Enzi and Clinton proposals would provide tax credits to help U.S. residents purchase health insurance and seek to help small businesses offer coverage to employees. In addition, both proposals cite the need for a focus on preventive care. However, the Clinton proposal would require all residents to obtain health insurance and prohibit the denial of coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, neither of which appears in the Enzi plan, according to the AP/Gazette (AP/Billings Gazette, 1/11).
  • Election issue: Health care has become "one of the hottest domestic topics" in the presidential election, but, because the candidates "are not floating new ideas," experts predict that the next president "will look to what the states have been doing to increase health care access," the Hartford Courant reports. According to the Courant, Democratic and Republican candidates remain "divided about how to respond to the issue," as Democrats believe that the federal government should "take a bigger role in expanding health care access" and Republicans support "market-based solutions." However, according to the Courant, "each proposal has its own set of problems" (Hathaway, Hartford Courant, 1/13).
  • Michigan primary: Republican candidates to date "mainly have debated anti-terrorism and immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion," but they have shifted their "attention to voters' economic anxiety -- an issue sure to loom large in the general election battle against the Democrats' nominee" -- in preparation for the primary on Tuesday in "hard-hit Michigan," the Wall Street Journal reports (Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 1/14). For example, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during a recent appearance at a General Motors manufacturing facility near Ypsilanti, Mich., proposed to increase the amount of funds that the federal government provides to help automakers with health care costs (Bumiller/Broder, New York Times, 1/13). According to the Journal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee previously "had been mostly alone" among Republican candidates in "speaking to middle-class Americans' angst about ... health insurance" and other economic issues. Republican pollster Bill McInturff said, "The Republican nominee is going to have to address this significant economic unease," such as concerns about health care, to win the general election (Wall Street Journal, 1/14).
  • Obama advertisement: Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on Saturday began to air a television ad in Arizona that discusses the experience his mother had with cancer and his health care plan, the Washington Post "The Trail" blog reports (Kurtz, "The Trail," Washington Post, 1/13). In the 30-second ad, Obama says, "My mother died of cancer at 53. In those last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well." He says, "I hear stories like hers everyday. For 20 years Washington has talked about health care reform and reformed nothing," adding, "I've got a plan to cut costs and cover everyone. But unless we stop the bickering and the lobbyists we will be in the same place 20 years from now." Obama concludes, "I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message because to fix health care we have to fix Washington" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/12).

Opinion

  • Courant: The recent "flogging of the health insurance industry with the sad story" of Nataline Sarkisyan -- a 17-year-old girl who died while awaiting a liver transplant that was originally denied by Cigna -- by Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) "does justice neither to the truth nor to the cause of health care reform," according to a Courant editorial The editorial states, "The insurance industry is responsible for some of that, but so are the pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, hospitals, individuals and Mr. Edwards' brethren at the trial bar." According to the editorial, the case "deserves a more serious discussion than the neo-populist sound-bites that Mr. Edwards keeps offering a national television audience" (Hartford Courant, 1/14).
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Voters and politicians talk a lot about health care reform these days, usually about reducing the number of uninsured," but reducing the number of uninsured residents is "just one piece of the very complicated puzzle that is health care in America," the Post-Dispatch writes in an editorial. The editorial continues, "Two other major health care challenges ... merit immediate attention": the total cost of health care and quality of care. "Both are arguably bigger problems than covering the uninsured and harder to solve," according to the Post-Dispatch. The editorial states that the "bottom line on covering the uninsured is money and the political will to spend it" and that "real reform won't be possible until we address how much we spend on care and what we're getting for it" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/13).
  • Robert Kuttner, Los Angeles Times: "The sub-prime mortgage crisis and worsening credit card debt are only intensifying a longer-term trend of economic distress for most Americans," which includes "severe cutbacks in employer-provided health insurance," and has "accelerated during the Bush administration," Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, writes in a Times opinion piece. He continues, "Yet, it's not at all clear that the Democrats will pin the economic distress squarely on the policies of the Republican administration or offer a politically convincing alternative to them." Kuttner writes that Obama has failed to offer "sweeping measures" with his Social Security and health insurance proposals and that Clinton's "modest anti-recession package" fails to be the "kind of program that would transform the structural insecurity facing the middle class." He concludes, "In the absence of truly big ideas that promise change at more than a rhetorical level, voters are just as likely to back the candidate who offers tax cuts" (Kuttner, Los Angeles Times, 1/13).

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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