Democratic Presidential Candidates Address Health Care, Other Issues at Debate in Detroit
While discussions about Iraq "overshadowed differences on the economy and other domestic issues" at a 90-minute debate in Detroit on Sunday that included the nine Democratic presidential candidates, the "sharpest exchange" on domestic issues arose over whether former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean would cut Medicare, Medicaid or other government entitlement programs to shore up the federal budget, the Washington Post reports. Dean said that none of those options is "on the table," prompting Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) to reply, "If he just took Social Security and Medicare off the table, the question is, what entitlements are on the table? Veterans' pensions, food stamps, Medicaid, Social -- disability? He can't answer that question" (Balz, Washington Post, 10/27). Also at the debate, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.) said she favors "taking the burden of health care off of our manufacturers and small businesses" by implementing a single-payer health care system provided by the federal government (Price et al., Detroit News, 10/27).
While Dean once "advocat[ed] reining in the growth of entitlement programs," he "has reversed himself on the need for entitlement reform and cost controls," meaning that "[n]one of the candidates wants to control Medicare's growth or reform Social Security," Morton Kondracke writes in his "Pennsylvania Avenue" column in Roll Call. Kondracke notes that all of the Democratic candidates promote "not just creating an expensive new Medicare prescription drug benefit ... but also a high-priced guarantee of insurance coverage for the uninsured." Kondracke writes that these initiatives "certainly are meritorious, but if the nation is to avoid a fiscal abyss as the baby boom generation retires, entitlement reform also is necessary" (Kondracke, Roll Call, 10/27).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.