Democrats Push Health Plans at Debate in Philadelphia
Seven Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday participated in a debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia, during which they discussed health care accessibility and quality, among other issues, the Washington Post reports (Balz/Kornblut, Washington Post, 10/31).
During the debate, moderated by Brian Williams and Tim Russert of NBC News, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) discussed her past efforts to expand access to health care in Arkansas and enact legislation to establish the State Children's Health Insurance Program. In addition, Clinton said that her proposal to expand health insurance to all U.S residents would "basically give the insurance companies an ultimatum" and would require them to "get into the business actually providing insurance instead of trying to avoid covering people." Clinton also promised to "do everything I can do" to increase funds for cancer research and criticized President Bush for his failure to increase the NIH budget over the past several years (Debate transcript, New York Times, 10/31).
Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) said Clinton lacks the ability to unify the nation to address problems with the health care system and criticized her for "changing positions whenever it's politically convenient" (Thomma, Miami Herald, 10/31). In addition, Obama discussed the "need to deal with the insurance companies," revise the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement system, expand health insurance to all residents, focus more on preventive care and address the cost of medical school.
Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) also said that Clinton would not "be the person who brings about change in this country" on health care because she has "raised the most money from the health industry." He said, "We don't have universal health care because of drug companies, insurance companies and their lobbyists." In addition, he said that the U.S. faces a "serious nursing crisis."
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he would seek to re-establish, "on a general basis, doctor-patient relationship" and ensure that "we also not forget health professionals."
Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) discussed the need to address the issue of medical liability because the cost of medical malpractice insurance has prompted many potential physicians not to enter the profession.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) discussed his proposal to establish a single-payer health care system. He said, "As long as you have the private insurance companies involved in providing health services, people aren't going to get care." Sen. Joe Biden (Del.) also participated in the debate (Debate transcript, New York Times, 10/31).
MSNBC video of the complete debate is available online (MSNBC, 10/30).