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Edwards Might Enforce Health Insurance Mandate

Armen Hareyan's picture

Presidentialcandidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Thursday in an interviewsaid that, under his health care plan, U.S. residents who can afford topay for health insurance could have their wages garnished or tax refundswithheld in the event that they do not obtain coverage, the Des Moines Register reports. The proposal would requireall residents to obtain health insurance, with federal subsidies available tolower-income residents.

Edwards also said that the proposal would enroll uninsured residents in healthplans when they use the health care system or public services. He said,"So if you don't have health coverage, and you go to the emergency room,you get enrolled. If you are a five- or six-year-old and you go to kindergartenor sign up for school, you get enrolled, if you're not on a health care plan.If you go to the library, you get picked up."

He added, "When somebody chooses not to be in our health care system, thenwhat they're choosing is that the rest of America is going to pay for their healthcare" (Leys, Des Moines Register, 11/30).

In related news, the Register on Friday examined how voters"must decide ... if there are two John Edwardses" because, during his2004 presidential campaign, he advocated a "gradual approach to healthreform" but today he "embraces universal health care." Accordingto the Register, his current health care proposal is"choreographed to endear him with his party's left in 2008."

Eric Johnson, a graduate student at the University of Iowa,said, "The political climate is more open to solutions that might havebeen deemed politically unpalatable" in 2004.

Joe Trippi, a senior adviser to Edwards, said, "Health care has become amuch greater crisis" since 2004 (Beaumont, Des Moines Register,11/30).

Giuliani Statistics

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The New York Times on Friday examined how presidentialcandidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) in "everyappearance as he campaigns ... cites a fusillade of statistics and facts tomake his arguments" on health care and other issues, although many of"these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong."

A radio advertisement recently launched by the Giuliani campaign said that thefive-year survival rate for prostate cancer in the U.S.is 82%, compared with 44% in Britain,which has a national health care system. According to the Times,his "point was that the American health care system is far superior to England'sgovernment-run system," but the statistics were "soondiscredited."

Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, said that,although the health care proposal that Giuliani has announced "may be thebest of the Republican health care plans," the statistics in the ad were"misleading." Ponnuru added, "It became an argument about thestatistics, and he dug in and defended it when he was wrong" (Cooper, NewYork Times, 11/30).

Opinion Piece

"From the beginning,advocates of universal health care were troubled by the incompleteness" ofthe health care proposal announced by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama(D-Ill.) because the plan would not require all U.S. residents to obtain healthinsurance, but today "Obama is claiming that his plan's weakness isactually a strength", Times columnist Paul Krugman writes.Under the proposal, "healthy people could choose not to buy insurance --then sign up for it if they developed health problems later," Krugmanwrites, adding, "Insurance companies couldn't turn them away" becausethey would have to "offer the same policy to everyone."

According to Krugman, Obama is "wrong on policy," and the "wordshe uses to defend his position make him sound like Rudy Giuliani inveighingagainst 'socialized medicine': he doesn't want the government to 'force' peopleto have insurance, to 'penalize' people who don't participate."

Krugman adds, "Obama's caution, his reluctance to stake out a clearlypartisan position, led him to propose a relatively weak, incomplete health care plan," and, "inthe effort to defend his plan's weakness, he's attacking his Democraticopponents from the right -- and in so doing giving aid and comfort to theenemies of reform" (Krugman, New York Times, 11/30).

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.