Newsweek Examines Health Care

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The Jan.28 issue of Newsweek examined six major issues -- suchas problems with the U.S.health care system -- that face the next president.

According to Newsweek, the U.S. spends about $2 trillionannually on health care but "ranks poorly on a variety of key healthindices." The system is "riddled with inefficiencies, excessiveadministrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management, and inappropriatecare, waste and fraud," according to the National Coalition on Health Care.

In addition, according to a recent Kaiser FamilyFoundation survey, U.S. residents have more concernsabout health care costs than they have about job security, mortgage payments orterrorist attacks. "There's a big decision for the next president aboutwhether to make health reform a big priority," Drew Altman, president andCEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said.

Some residents also have concerns about a lack of adequate funds for research,as the NIH budget likely will decrease by 3% this fiscalyear. The next president also will have to address a number of"politically sensitive" issues, such as stem cell research andprescription drug safety, Newsweek reports (Barrett, Newsweek,1/28).

Clinton Video Criticizes Obama on HealthCare

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Presidential candidate Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday released an online video thatcriticizes rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for shifting his support of asingle-payer health care system, The Hill reports. The video comparesstatements about health care that Obama made at an AFL-CIOconference in 2003 to those he made at a debate in South Carolina on Monday.

At the conference, Obama said, "I happen to be a proponent of single-payeruniversal health care coverage." He added, "But as all of you know,we may not get there immediately because first we have to take back the WhiteHouse, we have to take back the Senate and we have to take back theHouse." During the debate, Obama said, "I never said that we shouldtry to go ahead and get single-payer." He added, "What I said was: IfI were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system where employerstypically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payersystem."

Clinton said,"We have seen ... a kind of evolution here. When Sen. Obama ran for theSenate he said he was for single-payer," but, as "time went on ... hesaid he was for single-payer in principle, then he was for universal healthcare." She added that his current health care proposal "is notuniversal" because of the lack of a requirement that all U.S. residentsobtain health insurance. The proposal would require health insurance forchildren and implement measures to make coverage more affordable.

In response to the video from Clinton,Obama said that his positions on health care have not changed, only her"presentation of my positions, which has happened frequently in thiscampaign" (Barr, The Hill, 1/22).

Opinion Pieces

  • Cal Thomas, Washington Times: Judicial Watch has obtained records from the Clinton Presidential Library that "reveal the internal workings and attitudes of people associated with Hillary Clinton's National Task Force on Health Care Reform" in the 1990s, which "penetrate Clinton's carefully crafted personae, expose her true character and suggest what she and her Democratic allies would impose on the nation, if given the power," syndicated columnist Thomas writes in a Times opinion piece. According to Thomas, efforts by the task force to "impose an unworkable plan on an unsuspecting public was bad enough, but the pain HillaryCare supporters were prepared to inflict on opponents demonstrates insensitivity in the extreme ... tells voters all they need to know about her and about her team's tactics and objectives should she become president." He adds, "Had opponents not prevailed, we might be standing in line for health care like they are in Canada and Britain" (Thomas, Washington Times, 1/23).
  • Peter Pitts, Washington Examiner: "On both sides of the political aisle, presidential candidates have labeled universal health coverage as the moral challenge of the decade," but, whether a "government-run health care system" is "the best way to bring this about ... depends on whether you want your health insurance and medical services to be provided by the same folks who run the Department of Motor Vehicles and Federal Emergency Management Agency," Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, writes in an Examiner opinion piece. He adds, "Look abroad and you'll see the disastrous effects of a government takeover of the health industry," such as waiting lists for "serious procedures" and price controls that have "caused an atrophy of the European pharmaceutical industry." According to Pitts, "Such dirty secrets are why most advocates of universal health care harp exclusively on access to insurance," although "access to health insurance is not a problem for most Americans." He adds, "Our current system may be problematic," but the "'free lunch' promised by advocates of government-run health care is anything but" (Pitts, Washington Examiner, 1/22).

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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