Democratic Presidential Candidates Focus on Health Care Issue in 2004 Election Campaigns
Proposals from the nine Democratic presidential candidates to expand health insurance and access to care to more U.S. residents are "setting the stage for one of the starker contrasts with President Bush" in the 2004 election campaign, the New York Times reports. The health care proposals differ in approach and size, but the candidates have reached "a consensus that a health care crisis of soaring costs and declining coverage has returned," according to the Times. Although the failed efforts of former President Bill Clinton to reform the U.S. health care system "left many Democrats gun-shy of the issue," the issue has returned in the 2004 presidential election campaign, the Times reports. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) "set the pace for Democrats" in the campaign with a health care proposal that would require employers to offer health insurance to employees and would expand federal programs to provide coverage for unemployed U.S. residents, the Times reports. In addition, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) has campaigned on his record of health insurance expansion in the state and has promoted his health care proposal -- which in large part would work within the current health care system -- as the "most politically realistic," the Times reports. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and the Rev. Al Sharpton (D) support some form of single-payer health care system, and Sens. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark (D) have introduced health care proposals that place a "heavy emphasis" on the expansion of health insurance to children, the Times reports. Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has introduced a health care proposal that would reimburse employee health plans for catastrophic costs, which he maintains will reduce the cost of health insurance.
Most of the health care proposals from the Democratic presidential candidates are "many times more expensive" than the Bush administration proposal, which would cost $89 billion over 10 years and would provide tax credits for health insurance, the Times reports. Bush administration officials reject the idea that "spending more federal money is the only -- or the best -- way" to expand health insurance to more U.S. residents, according to the Times. President Bush this year will likely campaign on "having already delivered the biggest expansion of Medicare in 38 years," as well as efforts to pass "more aggressive policies this year to help the uninsured and underinsured," the Times reports (Toner, New York Times, 1/14). A Times graphic that includes the details of the health care proposals of each presidential candidate is available online.
Several broadcast programs reported on the issue of health care and the uninsured in the 2004 election:
- CNN's "Inside Politics": The segment on Tuesday examined the health care proposals of the Democratic presidential candidates. The segment includes comments from Dean, Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry (Woodruff, "Inside Politics," CNN, 1/13). The complete transcript is available online.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment on Tuesday reported on the return of the issue of health care in the 2004 election campaign. The segment included comments from Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation; Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan and co-chair of an Institute of Medicine committee scheduled to release a sixth report on the uninsured Wednesday; and Republican pollster Bill McInturff (Rovner, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/13). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- WAMU's "Kojo Nnamdi Show": The segment on Tuesday examined the experiences of individuals without health insurance. Guests on the program included Gerard Anderson, professor of public health and medicine and director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins University; Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA; and Rick Wade, senior vice president of strategic communications for the American Hospital Association (Nnamdi, "Kojo Nnamdi Show," WAMU, 1/13). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.