Health Care Drawing Less Attention in 2008 Presidential Election
Both presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) have announced "detailed -- but very different -- health care plans," the Chicago Tribune reports.
In recent weeks, Obama and McCain have focused on other issues -- such as the war in Iraq, the economy, gasoline prices and national security -- and some polls have found that health care is "languishing far behind" other issues as top concerns for voters, according to the Tribune.
While health care appeared as "daily fodder in the debate over which candidate would do a better job as president" during the Democratic presidential primary campaign, the Tribune reports that the "silence is deafening" on the issue during the general election campaign.
Obama spokesperson Bill Burton said, "The issue of health care may be getting less attention than it deserves from the media, but it's still a top concern for voters and among the top issues that Sen. Obama talks about on the campaign trail."
Tucker Bounds, a spokesperson for McCain, acknowledges that, although health care issues have not received a large amount of attention in the general election campaign, they "could hardly escape the conversation each candidate will have with voters" because of the "stark contrast" in their proposals.
Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said, "For a lot of people who have health insurance, they are paying more for health care, but it may not show up as concretely as paying $70 to fill their gas tank."
According to Republican pollster Gary Ferguson, who specializes in health care, despite the lack of attention to health care, the issue remains part of overall economic concerns.
In Congress, Democratic and Republican staffers have begun to meet in preparation for the consideration of health care legislation next year, regardless of which candidate becomes president.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, added that health care is an important issue in House races nationwide and that he expects Obama to address the issue next week during the Democratic National Convention in Denver (Zuckman, Chicago Tribune, 8/21).
A recent statement by Obama that he would "'probably go ahead with a single-payer'" health care system if he was "'designing a system from scratch'" indicated his support for the "idea of a health care market -- or nonmarket -- entirely run by the government," a Wall Street Journal editorial states. According to the editorial, most "liberals support single-payer, aka 'Medicare for All,' because it would eliminate the profit motive, which by their lights is the reason Americans are uninsured."
"Obama's health care plan includes a taxpayer-funded insurance program, much like Medicare but open to everyone," and seeks to "displace current private coverage and switch people to the default government option," according to the editorial.
The editorial states, "What's new is Mr. Obama's smoother political packaging." The editorial states, "With good reason, critics often call this a back-door route to a centrally planned health care bureaucracy," adding, "For all his lawyerly qualifications, Mr. Obama has essentially admitted that his proposal is really the front door" (Wall Street Journal, 8/21).
NBC's "Nightly News" on Wednesday included analysis from NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd on a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on the presidential election. Among other results, the poll found that 48% of voters believe Obama would address health care more effectively, compared with 27% who believe McCain would address the issue more effectively (Curry, "Nightly News," NBC, 8/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.