Elizabeth Edwards Criticizes Clinton’s Health Care Plan
Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), on Wednesday in an Associated Press interview said that the health care proposal announced on Monday by presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is "in every material respect just like John's" plan, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
She called the Clinton proposal "John Edwards' health care plan as delivered by Hillary Clinton."
In addition, she said, "We would have expected her to be the first one out of the box, not the last one out of the box with a health care plan," based on her previous experience with the issue. Elizabeth Edwards also said that "it's almost as if she hasn't been willing to have the courage independently to be a leader on these things."
However, Clinton campaign spokesperson Zac Wright in a statement said, "Nobody has worked harder or longer to improve health care in America than Hillary Clinton" (Davenport, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/20).
Clinton on Wednesday in an interview said that, although lawmakers cannot eliminate the influence of the health insurance industry from the health care reform process, her proposal would require changes in the industry, the Des Moines Register reports. She said of health insurers, "They are incredibly powerful. You can't just try to wish them away."
In response to a question about the reaction of the health insurance industry to her proposal, Clinton said, "There's some things they've been positive about, and a lot of the changes that this plan would impose upon the health insurance industry they're not very positive about" (Jacobs, Des Moines Register, 9/20).
In related news, The Politico on Wednesday examined the political prospects for expanding health coverage, in the context of Clinton's proposal and the health reform debate of 1993 (Harris/VandeHei, The Politico, 9/19).
The Washington Times on Thursday examined how, although Democratic presidential candidates have said that they would fund their health care proposals through the elimination of tax cuts proposed by President Bush and approved by Congress for high-income U.S. households, "that cash isn't nearly enough to cover their promises" and "might not be available by the time one of them would take office in January 2009." The tax cuts, which total $55 billion, will expire in 2010 without congressional action.
Presidential candidates Clinton, Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have said that they would fund their health care plans through the elimination of tax cuts.
Adam Hughes, director of federal fiscal policy at OMB Watch, said, "It's good to have vision and to be talking about priorities, but people should ratchet down their promises about what will actually be enacted," adding, "The reality is, you're not a king."
Meanwhile, presidential candidate New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has said that he would fund his health care proposal with funds currently used for the war in Iraq. However, according to Hughes, an immediate end to the war in Iraq would provide only a limited amount of funds for domestic programs (Bellantoni, Washington Times, 9/20).
The television advertisement "wars began to heat up this week" among presidential candidates, and some of the ads focused on health care, the Washington Post reports.
The Clinton campaign on Tuesday launched a new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire that states, "She changed our way of thinking when she introduced universal health care to America. She changed the lives of six million kids when she championed the bill that gave them health insurance. And she changed future generations by pushing the drug companies to lower the cost of vaccinations." In addition, the ad states that her health care proposal "lets you keep your coverage if you like it" (Kurtz, Washington Post, 9/20).
The Obama campaign on Wednesday launched a new, one-minute ad in Iowa that discusses his efforts to improve the health care system and addresses other issues (Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, 9/19).
Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals on Wednesday announced that over the next few months, presidential candidates from both parties will appear individually in one-hour webcast forums in which a media panel will ask questions of them about their health care proposals, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 9/19). The sponsors of the forums have invited all of the presidential candidates to participate, and to date, Obama is the only candidate to decline (CongressDaily, 9/20).
According to the current schedule for the forums, Edwards will appear on Sept. 24; Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) will appear on Oct. 25; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will appear on Oct. 31; and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will appear on Nov. 1. Clinton, Richardson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) also have agreed to participate in the forums (Presidential Forums release, 9/19).
Susan Dentzer of PBS's "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer" will moderate the forums, and additional panelists will include Julie Rovner of NPR, Laurie McGinley of the Wall Street Journal and Timothy Johnson of ABC News (CQ HealthBeat, 9/19).
Families USA Director Ron Pollack said, "Rather than brief or meaningless sound bites, the forums will allow the candidates to explain how America's health care system will change if they are elected in 2008" (Young, The Hill, 9/20).
Service Employee International Union officials on Wednesday named Clinton, Edwards and Obama as the finalists for the endorsement of the union, the AP/Canton Repository reports.
SEUI invited the candidates to speak next week at the Change To Win conference in Chicago (Holland, AP/Canton Repository, 9/20).
Three broadcast programs on Wednesday reported on the Clinton health care proposal and related issues. Summaries appear below.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment includes commentary by NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr about the 1993 Clinton health care proposal (Schorr, "All Things Considered," NPR, 9/19). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "News & Notes": The segment includes a discussion with Ron Christie, vice president of D.C. Navigators, and Mary Frances Berry, a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, about the Clinton proposal and other issues (Chideya, "News & Notes," NPR, 9/19). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Talk of the Nation": The segment includes a discussion with NPR political editor Ken Rudin about the Clinton proposal and other issues (Conan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 9/19). Audio of the segment is available online.