Health Care Could Be Major Issue In Nevada Caucuses

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The Nevadapresidential caucuses on Saturday "could turn on how well the candidatesaddress the United States' growing health care crisis," the New York Times reports. According to the Times,the state has an "unusually high number" of uninsured residents, ashortage of physicians and low Medicaid reimbursements. In addition,"health care safety nets are eroding" in the state, the Timesreports.

A recent poll of 500 likely Democratic voters in the state found that, whenasked about the "single most important issue in determining" thecandidate that they would select, 20% cited health care -- the issue mostmentioned after the economy, which 21% cited. The poll, conducted by Research 2000for the Reno Gazette-Journal, had a margin of sampling error ofplus or minus four percentage points (Steinhauer, New York Times,1/18).

Obama Discusses HealthCare Proposal

Democratic presidentialcandidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on Wednesday at the Henderson ConventionCenter in Henderson, Nev., said that health care reform efforts led byDemocratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in the1990s failed because she conducted negotiations in private and that he wouldtelevise negotiations on his health care proposal on C-SPAN, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (Harasim, Las VegasReview-Journal, 1/17).

On Thursday, Obama discussed his health care proposal in an interview with theeditorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle. He said, "I admire the factthat President Clinton and Sen. Clinton tried to reform health care (in the1990s). But I believe they did it in the wrong way." He added, "Theirtheory was you go behind closed doors, you come up with your theory with thehelp of your technical experts. You don't even invite members of Congress fromyour own party into the negotiations and discussion. And while they were behindclosed doors, the insurance company was busy shaping public opinion as well asmaneuvering Congress, and by the time they released it ... it was dead in thewater."

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Obama said, "I would have a table, around which you'd have doctors,nurses, patient advocates. The insurance ...companies would get a seat at thetable; they just would not get to buy every chair." He added, "Iwould put my plan forward ... and these negotiations would be on C-SPAN ... sothe public would be part of the conversation and would see the choices beingmade" (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/18).

Opinion Piece

Almost "all thecandidates have approached health care as an issue to be addressed bygovernment rather than an individual," but they also should "discusswhat individuals could do to constrain costs," James O'Neill, director ofthe University of Delaware Center for Economic Education &Entrepreneurship,writes in a Wilmington News-Journal opinion piece. He writes that the"fundamental problem with today's system is we only pay for "sickcare," adding that "perhaps the real answer to catastrophic healthcosts rests on the shoulders of each of us."

According to O'Neill, "Congress should be looking at how to empowerindividuals to alter lifestyles and significantly reduce the health care burdenon the U.S.budget." He adds, "If we would embrace healthy behavior on a dailybasis and the insurance system only paid for uncontrollable illness, we wouldhave enough money to cover the uninsured population."

O'Neill concludes, "We need bold employers, employees, health practitioners and political leaders to take preventive medicine to the nextlevel. We are the cure for our sick system" (O'Neill, WilmingtonNews-Journal, 1/17).

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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