Health Care a Leading Issue in 2008 Presidential Campaign
Presidential candidates must offer plans for dealing with the cost and availability of health insurance to be considered as viable candidates in 2008, the Washington Post reports.
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has made the most detailed proposal to date, including a requirement that employers provide coverage to workers or pay a portion of their payroll into a fund to help individuals buy private insurance through regional purchasing pools. Edwards also would expand Medicaid and SCHIP and provide tax credits to help lower-income families purchase insurance.
Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) each have said that, as president, they would implement universal health coverage, although they have not offered detailed proposals.
Meanwhile, two Republicans -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, also a former HHS secretary -- are expected to use their health care experience "as campaign selling points," the Post reports.
Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said, "This is an issue which was very much on the minds of the American people as an economic worry for quite some time, but was just nowhere as a national political priority even six months ago. Now it's front and center again, and the words 'universal coverage' are back at the center of the debate."
The Post reports that some analysts have expressed concern that the focus on universal health care coverage "has obscured the fact that most voters already have insurance ... and what they are most concerned about is curbing costs."
Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health said, "The cost issue is a very important driving issue, and politicians haven't figured out how to touch that nerve yet."
John Rother, policy director for AARP, said, "Getting everybody covered is significant, but it doesn't take you right up against the power of the $2 trillion-a-year medical lobby the way that cost containment does. That's what missing in the debate" (Lee, Washington Post, 3/6).