Edwards Details Penalties Under Health Coverage Plan
Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Thursday in an interview said that, under his health care plan, U.S. residents who can afford to pay for health insurance could have their wages garnished or tax refunds withheld in the event that they do not obtain coverage, the Des Moines Register reports. The proposal would require all residents to obtain health insurance, with federal subsidies available to lower-income residents.
Edwards also said that the proposal would enroll uninsured residents in health plans when they use the health care system or public services. He said, "So if you don't have health coverage, and you go to the emergency room, you get enrolled. If you are a five- or six-year-old and you go to kindergarten or sign up for school, you get enrolled, if you're not on a health care plan. If you go to the library, you get picked up."
He added, "When somebody chooses not to be in our health care system, then what they're choosing is that the rest of America is going to pay for their health care" (Leys, Des Moines Register, 11/30).
In related news, the Register on Friday examined how voters "must decide ... if there are two John Edwardses" because, during his 2004 presidential campaign, he advocated a "gradual approach to health reform" but today he "embraces universal health care." According to the Register, his current health care proposal is "choreographed to endear him with his party's left in 2008."
Eric Johnson, a graduate student at the University of Iowa, said, "The political climate is more open to solutions that might have been deemed politically unpalatable" in 2004.
Joe Trippi, a senior adviser to Edwards, said, "Health care has become a much greater crisis" since 2004 (Beaumont, Des Moines Register, 11/30).
The New York Times on Friday examined how presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) in "every appearance as he campaigns ... cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments" on health care and other issues, although many of "these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong."
A radio advertisement recently launched by the Giuliani campaign said that the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in the U.S. is 82%, compared with 44% in Britain, which has a national health care system. According to the Times, his "point was that the American health care system is far superior to England's government-run system," but the statistics were "soon discredited."
Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, said that, although the health care proposal that Giuliani has announced "may be the best of the Republican health care plans," the statistics in the ad were "misleading." Ponnuru added, "It became an argument about the statistics, and he dug in and defended it when he was wrong" (Cooper, New York Times, 11/30).
"From the beginning, advocates of universal health care were troubled by the incompleteness" of the health care proposal announced by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) because the plan would not require all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance, but today "Obama is claiming that his plan's weakness is actually a strength", Times columnist Paul Krugman writes.
Under the proposal, "healthy people could choose not to buy insurance -- then sign up for it if they developed health problems later," Krugman writes, adding, "Insurance companies couldn't turn them away" because they would have to "offer the same policy to everyone."
According to Krugman, Obama is "wrong on policy," and the "words he uses to defend his position make him sound like Rudy Giuliani inveighing against 'socialized medicine': he doesn't want the government to 'force' people to have insurance, to 'penalize' people who don't participate."
Krugman adds, "Obama's caution, his reluctance to stake out a clearly partisan position, led him to propose a relatively weak, incomplete health care plan," and, "in the effort to defend his plan's weakness, he's attacking his Democratic opponents from the right -- and in so doing giving aid and comfort to the enemies of reform" (Krugman, New York Times, 11/30).