Advisers To Presidential Candidates Discuss Health Care Proposals

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Advisersto presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Barack Obama(D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) discussed the health care proposals of theirrespective candidates at a Washington, D.C., forum on Monday, CQ HealthBeat reports.

At the forum, sponsored by AcademyHealth, Obama adviser Gregg Bloche and Clinton adviser ChrisJennings discussed whether to require all residents to obtain health insurance,as well as differences between Democratic and Republican health proposals. Jennings criticized theObama health care proposal, which would require health insurance for childrenbut not adults. "All we're talking about is a false promise at the end ofthe day, and that would be a cruel hoax," he said. Bloche said thatalthough Obama does not oppose a health insurance mandate, he believes that theU.S.should first attempt a more "modest" proposal to expand coverage,according to CQ HealthBeat.

According to McCain adviser Tom Miller, residents will not support either the Clinton or Obama healthcare proposals after they understand the cost of the plans. Expansion of healthinsurance to all residents "doesn't mean ordering your menu of ice creamand someone else pays for it," Miller said, adding, "The money has tocome from somewhere, and it's likely to be you." Miller said that a McCainproposal to offer tax credits to help residents purchase health insurance andallow residents to purchase coverage across state lines would make the marketmore competitive and reduce costs.

In response, Bloche said that the McCain proposal is based on a"myth" that tax credits would cover the cost of health insurance fora family of four. He added, "Affordability is really a difficult subjectreality for families sitting around the table" (Lubbes, CQHealthBeat, 2/6).

Editorial

The Clinton health care proposal is "reallya government mandate that requires brute force plus huge subsidies to getanywhere near its goal of universal coverage," a Wall Street Journaleditorial states.

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According to the editorial, rather than discuss an enforcement mechanism forher health insurance mandate, Clinton is "more interested in wielding whatshe calls a 'core Democratic principle'" against Obama. Clinton claimsthat her health care proposal is "better because it has a mandate,"but whether the plan would "work in the real world -- where some peoplestill won't be able to afford insurance, or would decline to acquire it"-- remains undetermined, the editorial states.

Clinton "learned in 1994" that a "government health caretakeover can only be achieved gradually and by stealth," but her latestproposal is "an attempt to force everyone to buy into a highly regulatedprice-controlled system where government redistributes income and dictatescoverage," the editorial states, adding, "We assume the McCaincampaign is paying attention" (Wall Street Journal, 2/7).

Opinion Piece

"It's a widespreadfallacy" that "all bars to needed health care would disappear if wecould just move from private insurance companies to government financing,"syndicated columnist Jay Ambrose writes in the Washington Examiner. According to Ambrose, the "simpletruth" is that "some sort of rationing is required when health careis provided mostly free beyond taxation" because residents would demand"huge, unaffordable, ultimately unavailable amounts of care."

He writes, "For the U.S. to convert to a like system would be on the orderof a nuttiness that might be rectified by looking hard" at Medicare, which"consumes a huge percentage of the budget" and is now "in debtby an incredible $32 trillion." He adds that enrollment of all residentsin Medicare or "something akin to it" would result in the"mother of all financial crises."

Ambrose writes that more "easily obtainable health insurance" isavailable through health savings accounts and tax credits for residents"at no or little additional cost." He concludes, "What'sunneeded is a confused conviction" that "socialized medicine"would prove more effective than the current health care system, which,"however flawed, is in many ways better even prior to enhancements thatwould make insurance more nearly universal" (Ambrose, WashingtonExaminer, 2/7).

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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