Forum Solicits Presidential Candidates’ Cancer Stances
Four Democratic presidential candidates on Aug. 27 at a cancer forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, discussed issues related to the disease and health care, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
At the forum, the candidates -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- cited the need for additional funds for cancer research.
They also said that President Bush has allowed ideological concerns to affect decisions on embryonic stem cell and other research. Clinton said that Bush has led an "assault on science and research." Richardson called for a "surge in the war on cancer" (Glover, AP/Houston Chronicle, 8/27).
In addition, Richardson said that, as president, he would appoint a "cancer czar or Cabinet-level leader" (Pearson, Chicago Tribune, 8/28).
Edwards called Bush the "most anti-science president in history" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 8/27). He also criticized Clinton for her acceptance of campaign contributions from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies (Snyder, The Hill, 8/27).
According to Edwards, health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists "killed the health care reform" Clinton proposed in the 1990s.
Clinton said that her acceptance of campaign contributions from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies has not prevented her promotion of proposals to expand health insurance and revise prescription drug regulations (Chicago Tribune, 8/28).
Clinton and Edwards also differed on the implementation of bans on smoking in public places. Clinton said that state and local governments should implement smoking bans, but Edwards said that the federal government should implement a national ban (Powell, Hearst/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/28).
Kucinich said that he was "singularly positioned" to address the health care issue because of his vegan lifestyle.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation sponsored the forum, which was televised by MSNBC and hosted by Chris Matthews (Chicago Tribune, 8/28).
On the second day of the forum, presidential candidates Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) discussed issues related to the disease and health care (Denver Post, 8/28).
At the forum, Brownback said that he would seek to increase federal funds for cancer research by as much as three times the current level of $6 billion as part of an effort to eliminate deaths from the disease in 10 years. Huckabee also said that he would seek to increase federal funds for cancer research (Schulte, Des Moines Register, 8/29).
In addition, Huckabee said that the U.S. health care system should focus more on preventive care and healthy lifestyles and that residents who receive food stamps should have more incentive to purchase healthier foods (Pearson, Chicago Tribune, 8/29).
Huckabee and Brownback differed on the implementation of smoking bans in public places. Huckabee said that he would support a federal smoking ban, but Brownback said that state and local governments should implement bans (Des Moines Register, 8/29). On the issue of health insurance, Brownback said that he would allow U.S. residents to purchase coverage across state lines and expand the use of health savings accounts. He added that he would establish a program to allow residents to compare health insurer reimbursement rates by ZIP code and would equalize rates nationwide.
In addition, he said that he would make the transfer of medical records less difficult. Huckabee said that he would expand the use of HSAs and would reduce long-term care insurance costs (Des Moines Register graphic, 8/29).
Both candidates also said that health insurance proposals offered by Democratic presidential candidates would prove less effective than proposals to improve the affordability of and access to private coverage (Chicago Tribune, 8/29). No other Republican presidential candidates attended the forum (Des Moines Register, 8/29).
Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on Aug. 24 before the Florida Medical Association outlined his health care proposal, which would allow states to develop their own plans to expand access to health insurance and make coverage more affordable.
The proposal would not mandate that individuals or employers purchase health insurance, both provisions included in the Massachusetts health insurance law enacted when Romney served as governor (Dinan, Washington Times, 8/25).
Under the proposal, states could use federal funds currently provided to help cover the cost of care for the uninsured to help purchase private coverage for low-income residents who do not qualify for public health insurance programs (Madkour, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/25).
The proposal also would use federal funds as an incentive to prompt states to revise health insurance regulations to reduce the cost of private coverage (Washington Times, 8/25). In addition, the proposal would make Medicaid into a block grant program with fewer federal rules to provide states with more flexibility to administer their programs and help residents purchase private health insurance (California Healthline, 8/24).
The proposal also would provide tax deductions for individuals who purchase private health insurance and would cap damages in medical malpractice lawsuits (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 8/25).
The AFL-CIO on Wednesday at events in several cities nationwide announced a campaign that seeks to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents by the end of 2009.
The campaign seeks to help elect presidential and congressional candidates that support such proposals.
According to the AFL-CIO, which did not endorse specific candidates or proposals, the U.S. health care system should reduce "rising and irrational" costs; provide comprehensive, high-quality care to all residents; and continue to allow residents to select their physicians (Howington, Louisville Courier-Journal, 8/30).
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said that the union likely will not endorse a specific presidential candidate during the primary season, although all the unions will hold all candidates accountable for their health care positions.
Under current rules, a candidate would have to obtain support from two-thirds of AFL-CIO members to receive an endorsement from the union (Swanson, The Hill, 8/29).