Clinton, Obama Discuss Health Care Proposals

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Democraticpresidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama(Ill.) on Thursday during a debate in Los Angeles "dueled to a draw duringa long and detailed discussion about their competing health care plans"while "focusing on details and differing on how to bring the most peopleinto a national insurance network," the Washington Post reports (Balz/Kornblut, WashingtonPost, 2/1).

During the debate, Clinton cited health care asan issue on which she differed significantly with Obama, as her proposal wouldrequire all U.S.residents to obtain health insurance and his would only require coverage forchildren. Obama said that their proposals are "95% similar"(Lightman, McClatchy/Arizona Republic, 2/1).

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Both candidates said they would finance their health care proposals throughsavings from increased efficiency in the health care system and the eliminationof tax cuts for higher-income residents (Decker/La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 2/1).

Editorial, Opinion Piece

Summariesof a recent editorial and opinion piece that address health care in thepresidential election appear below.

  • Paul Krugman, New York Times: "It's hard ... to overstate the importance" of the health care proposal that former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) announced during his presidential campaign, as both Clinton and Obama "are, to a large extent, running on the platform Mr. Edwards built," Times columnist Krugman writes. According to Krugman, before the "Edwards plan was unveiled, advocates of universal health care had difficulty getting traction" because of a lack of "consensus about how to pursue health reform," and "vivid memories of the failure of 1993-1994" prompted most Democratic candidates to treat the "subject ... as a vague dream for the distant future." However, Krugman writes, the "Edwards plan squared the circle, giving people the choice of staying with private insurers, while also giving everyone the option of buying into government-offered, Medicare-type plans -- a form of public-private competition that Mr. Edwards made clear might lead to a single-payer system over time." In addition, Edwards "broke the taboo against calling for tax increases to pay for reform," Krugman writes. "Suddenly, universal health care became a possible dream for the next administration," Krugman writes, adding, "In the months that followed, the rival campaigns moved to assure the party's base that it was a dream they shared by emulating the Edwards plan" (Krugman, New York Times, 2/1).
  • Wall Street Journal: Romney tells voters that "experts crunched the data" during the development of the recently enacted Massachusetts health insurance law, but he does not tell them that "his initiative became a petri dish for the latest liberal health care theories," according to a Journal editorial. The editorial states, "Romney's cardinal flaw was that he did not attempt to deregulate and allow the insurance market to function as it should," as health insurance in Massachusetts is "among the most costly in the nation because of multiple mandates." According to the editorial, Romney first proposed "mandatory health escrow accounts for people who declined to insure themselves," but, after the "consultants and the liberal state legislature were through with it," the plan became the "individual mandate" that "effectively socialized the Massachusetts insurance market." The editorial states, "Romney claimed victory anyway, heralding the new plan as 'free market,'" adding, "Inconveniently, both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards made Massachusetts the model for their 2008 health care proposals" (Wall Street Journal, 2/1).

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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