Candidates for President Pitch Health Care Proposals
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-Wis.) discussed health care issues over the weekend. Summaries appear below.
Clinton, speaking on Saturday in Detroit before a crowd mostly made up of AFL-CIO members, proposed providing federal assistance for U.S. automakers' retiree health care costs if the automakers accept tougher fuel efficiency standards, Reuters/Boston Globe reports.
Chrysler Group, Ford Motor and General Motors combined have about $91 billion in unfunded retiree health care and life insurance obligations and spend a combined $12 billion annually on health care, according to Reuters.
Clinton said that negotiating health care benefits should not be the responsibility of the United Auto Workers. Clinton said she supports steps that would "lift some legacy costs from the auto industry," but she did not specify how government involvement would be structured or funded. Congress is expected to consider a bill that would require an increase in average fleet fuel efficiency from 25 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 (Krolicki, Reuters/Boston Globe, 6/9).
Thompson, a former HHS secretary, on Friday at a forum on Medicaid said that Republican presidential candidates should focus more on health care issues, the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Thompson "indirectly criticized" Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) for eliminating coverage for thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries, arguing that states should expand access to Medicaid because the federal government pays most of the cost, the AP/Post-Dispatch reports. In addition, expanding Medicaid access reduces states' long-term health care costs, Thompson said.
Thompson "dismissed" Democratic candidates' proposals for universal, government-assisted health insurance, arguing that any system that caps health care prices will discourage innovation by eliminating the profit motive of new research, according to the AP/Post-Dispatch (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/8).
- Washington Post: Presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) "have moved the health care debate forward with their proposals, and there is more to come on the Democratic side," a Post editorial states. Edwards' proposal, which differs from Obama's in that it mandates health coverage for both children and adults, "is preferable ... because it is less susceptible to being undermined by the cost-shifting created when the uninsured end up being treated at emergency rooms," the editorial states, noting that Obama's plan "could leave a third of those currently uninsured lacking coverage." According to the Post, "It's too bad that none of the candidates has the courage -- or the political foolhardiness, depending on how you look at it -- to take on the regressive and counterproductive tax deductibility of employer-sponsored health insurance and level the tax playing field with individually purchased insurance" (Washington Post, 6/10).
- David Hogberg, Washington Times: "Politicians and pundits lump the terms 'health care' and 'health insurance' together as though they are the same thing," an error that "easily leads to some mistaken, if not dangerous, notions," Hogberg, an adjunct scholar at the National Center for Public Policy Research, writes in a Times opinion piece. "As the experience of other nations shows ... universal health insurance often leads to very restricted access to health care," Hogberg writes, adding that nations "such as Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom" have contained the costs of health care "by using waiting lists, canceling surgeries or delaying access to new treatments such as prescription drugs." Hogberg concludes that "we should be highly skeptical of politicians promising to improve our health care system with universal health insurance" (Hogberg, Washington Times, 6/10).
CNN's "House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta" on Saturday reported on presidential candidates' views on health care. The segment includes comments from Mark Meaney, president and CEO of the National Institute for Patient Rights; CNN political analyst William Schneider; and several presidential candidates (Gupta, "House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta," CNN, 6/9).
A transcript of the segment is available online.