Democratic Candidates Tackle Health Care in YouTube/CNN Debate
Several Democratic presidential candidates on Monday appeared in Charleston, S.C., to participate in a debate co-sponsored by CNN and YouTube that presented questions submitted online by U.S. residents, which ranged from "toughly worded" to "highly emotional" to "simply offbeat," the New York Times reports (Healy/Zeleny, New York Times, 7/24).
Of 2,989 30-second clips submitted, 39 were chosen for the debate by moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN and five members of CNN's political team (Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/24).
Cooper during the debate said, "We ... were overwhelmed with videos on health care," many of which contained personal stories (CNN transcript, 7/23). Health care queries "produced sharp differences among the candidates," the Washington Post reports (Balz/Kornblut, Washington Post, 7/24).
Questions on health care -- often posed by people appearing alongside, or referencing, a sick or elderly relative -- addressed preparations for the aging baby boomer generation, chronic disease care, preventive medicine, stem cell research and universal health care.
Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) said, "The only way to provide universal coverage is to mandate that everyone be covered."
In response to an assertion by Edwards that his plan would not provide universal coverage, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) said, "Absolutely it does." Obama added, "I think that the problem is not that people are trying to avoid getting health care coverage. It is folks ... who are desperately in desire of it, but they can't afford it." Obama also said that attempts to establish universal health care in the 1990s failed due to the lobbying power of the drug and insurance industries, which he said must be curbed.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) -- who will reveal additional details about her health care plan in the coming months -- said that a "sense of national commitment that universal health care is an American value" is even more important than having a plan for universal health care.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (Conn.) said if he were elected, "stem cell research will be conducted." Dodd also said that his plan would cover all U.S. residents including undocumented immigrants, adding, "I don't want them contributing to disease problems and health issues."
Gov. Bill Richardson (N.M.) said that "every American deserves the right to the best possible quality health care" (CNN transcript, 7/23).
Two newspapers recently published stories concerning presidential candidates' health care proposals. Summaries appear below.
- Mitt Romney: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on Sunday answered questions posed by an audience in Exeter, Mass., Foster's Daily Democrat reports. Romney denounced government-funded health care, which he referred to as "Hillarycare" and "socialized medicine." "Do we want everybody insured? Yeah," he said, adding, "But we don't want to have the government do it." He noted that Europe, which has a single-payer health care system, has not experienced the same economic prosperity that the U.S. has since World War II (Macalaster, Foster's Daily Democrat, 7/23).
- Bill Richardson: Richardson is proposing a "workable" health care plan in which costs would be shared among individuals, businesses, stated and the federal government, according an opinion piece by Kirk Caraway, Internet editor for the Nevada Appeal, who interviewed Richardson on July 22. Caraway concludes, "Whoever moves into the White House in 2009 will have to tackle health care. ... American voters are going to have to keep the pressure on, to keep asking the questions, and to let our elected leaders know that this is a wound that will not heal itself. Health care reform can't just be a campaign slogan" (Caraway, Nevada Appeal, 7/22).
CNN video and a transcript of the complete debate are available online (CNN, 7/23). Expanded CNN coverage is available online. In addition, CNN on Wednesday included a special report on health care-related questions posted to YouTube. The segment includes discussions about the questions with CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen; CNN senior political analyst William Schneider; and Mehmet Oz, a professor and vice chair of surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital (Zahn, CNN, 7/18). A transcript of the segment is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.