Health Care Election News for the Week of Dec. 21, 2007
The following summarizes recent news coverage on health care comments made by several presidential candidates across the week.
- At a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, Clinton defended her recent remarks about Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) health care proposal, the New York Times reports. Clinton said, "I think contrasts are legitimate. My goodness, there are big differences between me and ... Sen. Obama on health care." Clinton has announced a health care proposal that would require all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance, but the Obama proposal would require coverage only for children, the Times reports. She added, "I think that is a legitimate issue in this campaign. He has a health plan that doesn't cover every American. My plan does." In response to a question about whether her campaign would air advertisements that criticize the Obama proposal, Clinton said, "I don't know what we're going to do -- you'll have to stay tuned" (Phillips, New York Times, 12/15).
- On Tuesday during an appearance at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago, Clinton said that as president she would increase regulations on health insurers, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. She said, "We're going to tell the insurance companies that they're going to have to change the way they do business." She asked, "How many of you have health insurance but you had to fight with the health insurance company to get it to pay for what you needed?" adding, "When you really need it, they won't pay. What point is it to have health insurance if you're diabetic and they won't cover diabetes?" (Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/19).
- During an appearance at a high school library in Marshalltown, Iowa, last week, Edwards said that all U.S. residents do not have health insurance because of opposition from the industry, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. He said, "Why don't we have universal health care? We don't have it because of the drug companies and the insurance companies and their lobbyists." He added, "Why do we have that mess of a prescription drug bill? Because the insurance lobbyists wrote the thing" (O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/16).
- During an appearance on Dec. 14 at the Iowa City Public Library, Edwards criticized Obama for his willingness to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and health insurers as part of his health care proposal. "I know some people suggest we'll be able to sit at the table with drug companies and oil companies and think they can get their power away. Right," Edwards said, adding, "I'll tell you when they'll (corporations) lose their power: when we take it away from them" (Jones, Chicago Tribune, 12/16).
On Monday during an appearance at a town hall meeting in Durham, N.H., sponsored by Goss International, Giuliani said that his proposal to provide U.S. residents with tax incentives to purchase private health insurance would reduce health care costs, Foster's Daily Democrat reports. According to Giuliani, the proposal would provide residents with a choice of health insurance and would increase competition among health insurers, which would reduce health care costs (Foster's Daily Democrat, 12/18).
In a New York Times opinion piece, columnist Paul Krugman writes that Obama's willingness to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and health insurers as part of his health care proposal "comes off looking, well, naïve." Obama is "being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries -- which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems -- will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform," Krugman writes, adding, "The fact is that there's no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste." According to Krugman, as a result, "drug and insurance companies -- backed by the conservative movement as a whole -- will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms." He adds, "Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world" (Krugman, New York Times, 12/17).
Paul on Tuesday after a meeting with the Linn County, Iowa, Medical Society said that as president he would not promote preventive health care, the Des Moines Register reports. Paul, a former Air Force flight surgeon and obstetrician, said, "I couldn't promote it," adding, "I want the patient to make the decision." In addition, he said, "When I talk around the country, people talk about the high cost of medical care. You can't look at this without looking at inflation." According to Paul, health care costs have continued to increase because of government regulations. He said that he supports a system in which the government provides health insurance for low-income U.S. residents and higher-income residents purchase private coverage and use health savings accounts to cover out-of-pocket costs (Jordan, Des Moines Register, 12/19).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.