Health Care Election News for the Week of Dec. 14
Six Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday during a debate in Johnston, Iowa, sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television discussed health care and other issues, the New York Times reports (Healy/Zeleny, New York Times, 12/14). According to the Washington Post, the candidates "found general agreement by promising" that they would expand health insurance to all U.S. residents (Kornblut/Balz, Washington Post, 12/14).
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) said she "learned a lot" from her efforts to expand health insurance to all residents in the 1990s. She added, "Clearly one of the principal lessons is that you have to have a very strong communication strategy, and we didn't do that." In addition, Clinton said that as president she would ask Congress to "send me everything that Bush vetoed, like stem cell research" and SCHIP bills (New York Times, 12/14).
Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) said that previous efforts to expand health insurance to all residents have failed because "we have a small group of entrenched interests, corporate powers, corporate greed, the wealthiest people in America, who are controlling what's happening in the democracy." Edwards added, "And we have to take it back" (Beaumont, Des Moines Register, 12/14).
Sen. Joe Biden (Del.) said that he would eliminate $20 billion in annual defense spending to fund health care programs.
Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Barack Obama (Ill.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also participated in the debate. The debate, moderated by Register editor Carolyn Washburn, marked the last forum that will feature all of the Democratic candidates before the Iowa caucuses next month (Thomma, McClatchy/Miami Herald, 12/13).
A CNN transcript of the debate is available online (CNN.com, 12/13). Iowa Public Television has posted video and expanded coverage of the debate on its Web site (Iowa Public Television, 12/13).
In addition, several broadcast programs reported on the debate and the issue of health care in the presidential election. Summaries appear below.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The program on Thursday reported on comments made by the Democratic presidential candidates on health care and other issues during the debate. The segment includes comments from Clinton, Biden, Dodd, Edwards, Richardson, Obama and Washburn (Horsley, "All Things Considered," NPR, 12/13). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The program on Friday reported on reaction to the debate from Democratic voters in Iowa (Wertheimer, "Morning Edition," NPR, 12/14). Audio of the segment is available online.
Nine Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday during a debate in Iowa sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television discussed health care and other issues, the AP/Kansas City Star reports.
During the debate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that he would reduce federal spending for health care and other domestic programs by as much as 15% (AP/Kansas City Star, 12/13). Giuliani also said that he would seek to provide U.S. residents with more "ownership" of their health care, "rather than relying on government as the nanny government." He added, "Let's rely on people to make choices about their health care. That's an American solution" (Helman, Boston Globe, 12/13).
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cited the need to focus on preventive health care (Cooper/Luo, New York Times, 12/13).
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said that health care costs are "going through the roof" and that "we need to reduce the burden on middle-income families in this country."
Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) said that as president he would seek to reduce the cost of Medicare. He said that "we've got to look at ... Medicare and do some things now that won't hurt anybody badly but will save it for the next generation" (Associated Press, 12/12). In addition, he said that he would eliminate Medicare eligibility for seniors with the highest income levels (Thomma, Miami Herald, 12/12).
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.); Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Ron Paul (Texas) and Tom Tancredo (Colo.); and former Ambassador Alan Keyes also participated in the debate (Associated Press, 12/12).
The debate, moderated by Register editor Carolyn Washburn, marked the last forum that will feature all of the Republican candidates before the Iowa caucuses next month (Kiely, USA Today, 12/13).
A CNN transcript of the complete debate is available online (CNN.com, 12/12). Iowa Public Television's Web site includes video highlights and expanded coverage of the debate (Iowa Public Television, 12/12).
- On Monday in Ames, Iowa, Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, discussed her proposal to expand health insurance to all residents. Bill Clinton said that she would have more ability to revise the health care system than Obama. He said, "It's one thing to have good intentions; it's another thing altogether to change the reality of people's lives" (Kornblut, "The Trail," Washington Post, 12/10).
- On Tuesday, Clinton criticized Obama for a 1996 questionnaire in which he indicated support for a single-payer health care system, pointing out that he has proposed a system based on private health insurance during his presidential campaign, Long Island Newsday reports. An aide to Obama said that "Obama never saw or approved" the response to the questionnaire and did not support a single-payer health care system (Thrush, Long Island Newsday, 12/11).
- The Clinton campaign plans to launch television advertisements in New Hampshire that criticize the Obama health care proposal, which lacks a requirement in her plan that all U.S. residents obtain health insurance. In addition, the Clinton campaign over the weekend sent volunteers door-to-door in the state to distribute fliers that criticize the Obama proposal (Fouhy/Elliot, AP/Denver Post, 12/12).
- In Inman, S.C., on Tuesday, McCain said that as president he would make efforts to improve health care for veterans his top domestic priority, and he criticized lawmakers for their failure to pass legislation to help address the issue, the AP/Winston-Salem Journal reports. At a campaign event, McCain, a retired Navy pilot, cited the need for an expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system and called recent reports of problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center "deplorable" (AP/Winston-Salem Journal, 12/12).
- At a house party in Johnston, Iowa, on Tuesday, Romney said that as president he would expand health insurance to all U.S. residents within four years. According to Washington Post's "The Trail," Romney "bragged that more than two-thirds of the uninsured" in Massachusetts "are now covered." He said, "I'll battle to get that done in every state in the country." In 2006, Romney signed a law that requires all Massachusetts residents to obtain health insurance. In addition, the Romney campaign has begun to distribute a new mailer in Iowa that depicts him as the candidate most able to expand health insurance to all residents (Bacon, "The Trail," Washington Post, 12/12).
ABC's "World News" this week featured a three-part series examining the issue of health care in the election.
On Monday, a panel of health policy experts discussed whether universal coverage is attainable and the role of government in achieving universal coverage. The panel included:
- Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation;
- Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund; and
- Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at Project HOPE.
The panel also discussed funding health care reform and the impact of rising health care costs on the middle class (Gibson, "World News," ABC, 12/10).
Video of Monday's segment is available online.
On Tuesday, the panel returned to discuss the results of an ABC News survey of presidential candidates' positions on health care-related issues.
Six Democratic and two Republican candidates responded to the survey, which included questions on five issues:
- Coverage for the uninsured;
- Cost control;
- Quality control;
- Personal choice and responsibility; and
- Electronic health records (Johnson, "World News," ABC, 12/11).
Video of Tuesday's segment is available online.
For Wednesday's segment, "World News" focused on how the use of health care information technology has impacted health quality and costs for the VA Health System (Johnson, ABC.com, 12/12).
Video of Wednesday's segment and expanded ABC News coverage are available online.
- ABC's "20/20": The program on Thursday included a discussion with Rep. Paul about health care and other issues (Stossel, "20/20," ABC, 12/13). Video of his comments on health care is available online. Additional video and expanded ABC News coverage also is available online.
- American Public Media's "Marketplace" on Wednesday included a commentary by Robert Reich, a secretary of labor under former President Clinton, about the health care proposals of Democratic presidential candidates. He concludes that, to implement health care reform, "Democrats need to start building a movement in support of the big and important reforms universal health insurance requires -- on which Democrats happen to agree" (Reich, "Marketplace," American Public Media," 12/12). Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online.
- NPR's "Talk of the Nation": The first hour of the program on Friday is scheduled to include a discussion about the issue of health care in the presidential election. Scheduled guests include Donald Berwick, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement; Laurence Kotlikoff, an author and professor of economics at Boston University; Fred Ralston, chair of the Health and Public Policy Committee at the American College of Physicians; and Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of political economy at Princeton University ("Talk of the Nation" Web site, 12/14). Additional details about the segment and a broadcast schedule are available online. Audio will be available after the broadcast.