Editorials Address Health Care, Presidential Election

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Severalnewspapers recently featured editorials and opinion pieces related to healthcare and the presidential election. Summaries appear below.

Editorials

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal: After examining presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) "written and spoken record in vain for any declaration that government-enforced collectivism is inherently wrong," it seems that the "'lesson' Sen. Clinton has learned is that it's wise to impose socialized medicine incrementally, one small step at a time, rather than be honest and spell out your intentions," a Review-Journal editorial states, adding, "Nor is there any indication that her remaining Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), has foresworn this vital plank in the socialists' century-old roadmap to serfdom, either" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2/1).
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: After Clinton's past efforts to reform health care failed, "bureaucracy came with a vengeance," while "health care costs rose exponentially, putting a huge burden on businesses big and small and swelling the ranks of the uninsured," the Post-Gazette writes in an editorial. According to the Post-Gazette, "This set of facts, which makes the United States a shameful anomaly among industrialized nations, poses a problem for the Republican candidates, although not one they recognize" because "they are still driven to insist that health care is primarily a personal responsibility, not a government one." The editorial concludes, "The next president of the United States must work with Congress to deliver a plan that tames the costs, delivers the care and extends peace of mind to every American, regardless of income" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/3).
  • Wall Street Journal: Presidential documents from the administration of former President Bill Clinton that have not been released by the National Archives "could relate to [Hillary Clinton's] role" in "scandals ... plus policy disputes over health care, welfare reform and Social Security" in the 1990s, according to a Journal editorial. The Journal writes that one memo, "from a participant with the initials 'P.S.,' reads, 'I can think of parallels in wartimes, but I have trouble coming up with a precedent in our peacetime history from such broad and centralized control over a sector of the economy ... Is the public really ready for this? ... none of us knows whether we can make it work well or at all.'" Memos like that one are "relevant today given that health care is again her signature domestic policy," according to the Journal (Wall Street Journal, 2/2).
  • Wall Street Journal: The "liberal remedy" to reducing the number of uninsured is to "protect the status quo while expanding public programs," which is the "opposite of a rational health policy," a Journal editorial states, adding, not "only does the current system cause unnecessary problems for the insured, but many of the gaps in coverage owe to the way tax subsidies shortchange the uninsured, particularly working-class and middle-income families." According to the Journal, President Bush's tax deductions for residents who purchase individual health coverage "would be a relatively cost-effective way to increase coverage" and "would also address the major market distortions that the employer-exclusive deduction causes" (Wall Street Journal, 2/4).
  • Washington Times: "Clearly, America's health care problems will pose a major challenge to the next administration," the Washington Times writes in an editorial. The editorial continues, "Generally speaking, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would maintain the employer-based system," while Republican candidates are "offering health plans that would seek to gradually shift the burden from employer-provided health insurance to a system that would encourage families to use tax incentives to obtain health insurance from the private market." The editorial concludes, "Democrats are almost certainly lowballing their annual cost estimates for achieving or approaching universal health coverage. And Republicans are almost certainly offering tax incentives that are inadequate to even begin addressing the problem of rising numbers of uninsured Americans" (Washington Times, 2/3).

Opinion Pieces

  • Paul Krugman, New York Times: The difference between Clinton and Obama's health insurance plans "could well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage -- a key progressive goal -- and falling far short," New York Times columnist Krugman writes. Although Obama "claims that people will buy insurance if it becomes affordable," the "evidence says otherwise," Krugman writes, concluding, "If you combine the economic analysis with ... political realities, here's what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance -- nobody knows how big -- that we'll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won't happen" (Krugman, New York Times, 2/4).
  • Clinton, Wall Street Journal: "American families don't need new government bureaucracies; they need new tools to help them climb the economic ladder," Clinton writes in a Journal opinion piece, adding, "This begins with health care, because rising costs erode workers' savings, make insurance less affordable, put businesses at a competitive disadvantage and threaten our fiscal future." Clinton continues, "Of all the candidates in either party, I have the most aggressive plan to lower health care costs" because it "steps up prevention and chronic-care management, cuts unnecessary spending, creates electronic medical records and ends health discrimination by insurers," in addition to "providing sensible and generous health care tax credits" (Clinton, Wall Street Journal, 2/4).
  • Stuart Goldstein, Washington Times: The "single biggest cause" of the growing health care expense is "not the delivery of health care itself but the highly manual, paper-intensive processing of these medical transactions and payments between health insurers and medical service providers," Goldstein, a financial services executive, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. Goldstein writes, "The question of how to pay for health care, therefore, is quite simple. We have to automate and leverage greater efficiencies out of the current system" (Goldstein, Washington Times, 2/3).

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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