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AMA To Expand 'Voice For The Uninsured'

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The American Medical Association on Tuesday announced the nationwideexpansion of a campaign that seeks to focus the health care debate in thepresidential election on the issue of the uninsured, The Hill reports. The multimillion-dollar "Voicefor the Uninsured" campaign, which includes advertisements and outreachefforts, last year targeted early presidential caucus and primary states -- Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- and Washington, D.C.

This week, television ads for the campaign began to air on cable networks, andprint ads appeared in U.S. News & World Report. As thepresidential election nears, print ads for the campaign will appear in othernational magazines, and online ads will appear on MySpace and Facebook.

AMA will not endorse a specific presidential candidate and likely will notcomment on any of their health care proposals (Young, The Hill,1/9).

Detroit News Articles Address Health Care asElection Issue

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The Detroit Newson Thursday published two articles that discuss the issue of health care in thepresidential election. Summaries appear below.

  • Democrats: Health care proposals from Democratic candidates would allow U.S. residents with employer-sponsored health insurance to retain their coverage and offer tax breaks and subsidies to help the uninsured purchase private coverage or pay to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the News reports. Their proposals also would revise eligibility requirements for Medicaid and SCHIP to include more low-income families and their children. Proposals from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) would require all residents to obtain health insurance, but a proposal from Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) would require coverage only for children. According to the News, Democratic candidates have sought to "avoid another 'HillaryCare' backlash" (Price/Kozlowski [1], Detroit News, 1/10).
  • Republicans: Health care proposals from Republican candidates seek to use market-based reforms to reduce costs and improve quality of care, the News reports. A proposal from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who seeks to shift U.S. residents from employer-sponsored health insurance to individual coverage, would make individual health insurance tax deductible and provide tax credits to help low-income residents purchase coverage. Other Republican candidates "also are advocating market-based solutions," according to the News. A proposal from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for example, would link the federal Medicaid funds that states receive to wellness programs. A proposal from Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) would establish a "safe harbor" to protect physicians who follow clinical guidelines from medical malpractice lawsuits as part of an effort to reduce health care costs. In addition, a proposal from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would make health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket costs and other health care expenses tax deductible (Price/Kozlowski [2], Detroit News, 1/10).

Aside-by-side comparison of the candidates' health plans is available on health08.org.

Opinion Piece

Edwards has used the"personal tragedy" of Nataline Sarkisyan -- a 17-year-old girl whodied after Cigna refused to cover a life-saving livertransplant that she required -- "to boost his political campaign,"and his "repeated references" to her death indicate the"obscenely cynical way he'd govern as president," Joel Zinberg, vicepresident of the New York County Medical Society and an associate clinical professorof surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, writes in a New York Post opinion piece. Edwards is"dishonest and ignores important public policy concerns: Cigna didn't killSarkisyan, her disease did," according to Zinberg.

He writes, "Medical insurance firms are highly unpopular with bothpatients and especially physicians -- and with good reason" -- but"in this case, contrary to Edwards' rant against corporategreed, the Sarkisyans' insurer authorized payment for three years of treatmentfor Nataline, including an expensive bone-marrow transplant." In thedecision to deny coverage for the liver transplant for Sarkisyan, Cigna was"only acting as the administrator of Sarkisyan's father's employer'shealth plan" and was "preserving the plan's funds forthe next leukemia patient," Zinberg writes.

He concludes, "We want a president who is interested in sound policy, whocan clearly consider everyone's welfare free of the emotional overlay anddistortion that have become Edwards' stock in trade" (Zinberg, New YorkPost, 1/10).

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.