Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss Health Care at San Francisco Convention
Five Democratic presidential candidates yesterday discussed their proposals to expand access to health care in the United States at a convention of the United Food and Commercial Workers in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Reps. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) spoke at the convention, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) spoke from Washington, D.C., via satellite (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/1). The candidates said that their proposals would help U.S. residents who lack health insurance and agreed that "universal health care is of primary importance," but they also "strove to differentiate themselves," the Contra Costa Times reports. Kerry, Gephardt and Dean have proposed reforms to the current employer-based health care system to provide health coverage to more uninsured U.S. residents. Kerry said, "We need to stop being the only industrialized nation that doesn't recognize that health care is not a privilege, it's a right" (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 8/1). Gephardt added, "This is a moral issue, not an economic issue. I will not rest until everyone is covered by good health care." Kucinich and Moseley Braun, who have proposed single-payer health care systems administered by the federal government, said that the the other candidates' proposals would exclude unemployed U.S. residents not covered by employer-provided health insurance. "Why don't we have health care for every American? Nothing less than universal, single-payer health care. Medicare for all is the only answer," Kucinich said (Enge, San Jose Mercury News, 8/1). Moseley Braun added, "We can't continue ... with the current system and expect to achieve universal coverage" (Contra Costa Times, 8/1). However, Dean said that proposals to establish a single-payer health care system would not pass in Congress. "Single-payer is a good idea, but it doesn't matter if you can't pass it," he said (San Jose Mercury News, 8/1).
The executive board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the largest U.S. unions, with 1.3 million members, will endorse Gephardt for president, the Washington Post reports (Edsall/Balz, Washington Post, 8/1). The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Seafarers International Union of North America and the American Maritime Officers also endorsed Gephardt this week. The nine unions that have endorsed Gephardt have a combined 1.4 million members, according to the Los Angeles Times (Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 8/1).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.