GOP Debate Weighs Minority Health Care, Related Issues
Six Republican presidential candidates on Thursday during a debate at Morgan State University in Baltimore discussed health care and other issues important to minorities, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The four leading candidates -- former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) -- did not participate in the debate (Nitkin/Brown, Baltimore Sun, 9/28).
During the debate -- moderated by Tavis Smiley, host of PBS' "Tavis Smiley" -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that the health care system is "upside down" and that the nation needs to "be putting the money on the preventive side" of care. He added that "there has to be ownership of the individual consumer."
In addition, Huckabee cited the need for a "disproportionate level of funding to help" the "disproportionate level of people in the African-American community with hypertension, with stroke, with diabetes."
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said that "more markets and real markets with it" represents the most effective approach to expand access to health insurance.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) cited the "ability to buy your health insurance across state lines."
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) criticized managed care, which he said has existed in the U.S. since the 1970s and "hasn't worked." He added, "We need to get the government out of the way. ... If you have a product that's not dealt with by government, prices go down when you have modern technology."
Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) said that he supports the expansion of health savings accounts because they "put you in the connection" with "nobody in between" patients and physicians.
Former Ambassador Alan Keyes said that "we need to take care of ... encouraging the kind of entrepreneurship that will create jobs" in black and Hispanic areas to help expand access to health insurance (Debate transcript, PBS, 9/27).
PBS video and expanded coverage of the debate are available online.
"Tavis Smiley" on Friday is scheduled to include a discussion on the debate. Scheduled guests include Ray Suarez, a journalist and one of the moderators of the debate; Michael Fauntroy, an assistant professor at George Mason University; and Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of National Newspaper Publishers Association's News Service and BlackPressUSA.com ("Tavis Smiley" Web site, 9/28). A broadcast schedule and additional details about the segment are available online.
In other election news, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Thursday at a campaign event in New York City discussed health care and other issues, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
During the event, Obama promised to help the millions of U.S. residents who lack health insurance. He said that his mother died at age 53, with concerns about whether her health insurance would cover her medical bills.
"I know what it's like to watch a loved one suffer not just from illness but from a broken health care system," Obama said (Franklin, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/28).
- Dayton Daily News: "If you listen to the presidential campaign, you might get the impression that, if the Democrats win the presidency and strengthen their control of Congress next year, the country will finally get universal health care or something like it," but "if the Democrats think the task at hand is simple, politically or otherwise, they are making a huge mistake," a Daily News editorial states. According to the editorial, a "Democratic victory in 2008 would be an indication that the public is willing to consider universal coverage, not that people are insisting upon it." The failure of health care reform in the 1990s indicates that "people want something that works or seems likely to work," the editorial states, adding, "Otherwise, they will -- again -- be perfectly willing to leave things much as they are" (Dayton Daily News, 9/26).
- Philip Boffey, New York Times: "The epithet of choice these days for Republicans who oppose any expansion of government's role in health care programs is 'socialized' medicine," columnist Boffey writes in a Times opinion piece, adding, "Our political discourse is so debased that the term is typically applied where it is least appropriate and never applied where it most fits the case." He writes, "No one has the nerve to brand this country's purest systems of 'socialized medicine' -- the military and veterans' hospitals -- for what they are," adding, "The 's-word' seems even less appropriate for Senator Clinton's proposed universal health care plan." According to Boffey, the "take-home message for voters is this: Look behind the labels to judge health care proposals on their merits" (Boffey, New York Times, 9/28).
- Sally Pipes, Wall Street Journal: "Free-market health analysts welcome Mitt Romney's views, thank him for returning to sanity with his national health proposal and join him in his critique of Hillary Clinton's big-government health care plan," Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, writes in a Journal letter to the editor in response to a recent Romney opinion piece. "What we can't do is stomach his self-serving rewrite of the Massachusetts health reform," she writes. Pipes concludes, "There's a good reason why Mr. Romney didn't roll out his Massachusetts plan to the nation. Being based on mandates, new bureaucracy, increased regulation and wishful thinking, it looks a lot like Hillary Clinton's. That's not healthy for anyone" (Pipes, Wall Street Journal, 9/28).
- Sue Blevins, Wall Street Journal: "Sen. Clinton goes wrong by making physicians employees of the government. But Mr. Romney goes wrong by making physicians employees of insurance companies," Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, writes in a Journal letter to the editor in response to a recent Romney opinion piece. She writes, "Both could do right by making physicians employees of their patients," adding, "This could be done by making health care payments tax deductible for all citizens -- especially those who want to be responsible and pay their own (non-catastrophic) health care bills" (Blevins, Wall Street Journal, 9/28).
- Davis Merritt, Wichita Eagle: "Not a single one of the ... the Republican Party's board of presidential aspirants seems to think that health care is much of a problem for Americans," Merritt, a former Eagle editor, writes in an opinion piece, adding, "It's a willful ignorance that could cost their final candidate dearly next November, particularly if the Democrats became wise enough to form and announce at least a rudimentary consensus by the end of this year." Health care reform is "immensely complicated," but a "broad and strong tide running within a population that lives in fear of crushing medical expenses" exists in the U.S., according to Merritt. "Republicans who remain in denial about it put themselves in great peril," he writes, adding, "Democrats who fail to respond to it because they feel the need to exploit their minor differences rather than promote their broad areas of agreement benefit neither themselves nor the American people" (Merritt, Wichita Eagle, 9/26).