Health Care Election News for the Week of Jan. 18, 2008
The Nevada presidential caucuses on Saturday "could turn on how well the candidates address the United States' growing health care crisis," the New York Times reports.
The state has an "unusually high number" of uninsured residents, a shortage of physicians and low Medicaid reimbursements, according to the Times.
A recent poll of 500 likely Democratic voters in the state found that, when asked about the "single most important issue in determining" the candidate that they would select, 20% of respondents cited health care -- the issue most mentioned after the economy, which 21% of respondents cited. The poll, conducted by Research 2000 for the Reno Gazette-Journal, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points (Steinhauer, New York Times, 1/18).
The American Medical Association plans to triple spending on a campaign to promote the issue of the uninsured in the presidential election, the Chicago Tribune reports. AMA this year plans to spend a total of $15 million on the Voice for the Uninsured campaign, compared with $5 million spent from the launch of the initiative in August 2007 to the end of the year.
This month, television advertisements for the campaign began to air on cable news and entertainment broadcasts. In future months, the campaign will include national print ads in daily and weekly newspapers and news magazines, as well as ads on news Web sites.
AMA supports a proposal that would provide vouchers or tax credits to help low-income uninsured U.S. residents purchase health insurance as part of an effort to expand coverage to all residents. The proposal also would revise the allocation of government funds to help uninsured and low-income residents purchase health insurance (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 1/17).
KPCC's "Patt Morrison" on Thursday included a discussion with Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, about candidates' health care proposals (Lazarus, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 1/17).
Audio of the segment is available online.
At a memorial site for veterans in Jacksonville, Fla., on Tuesday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) discussed his health care proposal and criticized plans from Democratic candidates, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Giuliani said that he supports "health care options that are private, rather than government HillaryCare." He also said that he would "reduce government spending, not increase the size of the central government," with his health care proposal.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R), a Giuliani adviser, said, "No Republican is going to say 'no regulation,'" adding, "We're talking about providing a backstop, so there can be more private insurance" (Hafenbrack, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/16).
On Tuesday in a letter sent to The Hill, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) wrote that he has changed his position on a national ban on smoking in public places, adding that state and local governments, not the federal government, should implement such bans.
At an August 2007 forum on cancer hosted by cyclist and activist Lance Armstrong, Huckabee that said he would sign legislation to implement a national smoking ban. According to the letter, at the forum Huckabee said that "if Congress presented him with legislation banning smoking in public places, he would sign it because he would not oppose the overwhelming public support that such a congressional vote would reflect."
The letter adds, "However, since such sentiment for federal legislation doesn't exist at this time, and since he has said that the responsibility for regulating smoking initially lies with the states, the governor believes that this issue is best addressed at the local and state levels."
The American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and other anti-smoking groups support smoking bans at the state and local levels (Young, The Hill, 1/16).
- On Thursday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) discussed his health care proposal in an interview with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle. He said, "I admire the fact that President Clinton and Sen. Clinton tried to reform health care (in the 1990s). But I believe they did it in the wrong way." He added, "Their theory was you go behind closed doors, you come up with your theory with the help of your technical experts. You don't even invite members of Congress from your own party into the negotiations and discussion. And while they were behind closed doors, the insurance company was busy shaping public opinion as well as maneuvering Congress, and by the time they released it ... it was dead in the water." He said, "I would put my plan forward ... and these negotiations would be on C-SPAN ... so the public would be part of the conversation and would see the choices being made" (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/18).
- At the Henderson Convention Center in Henderson, Nev., on Wednesday, Obama also criticized Clinton's approach to health care reform in the 1990s, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (Harasim, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/17).
- Obama has launched a new television ad in Nevada that focuses on his proposal to expand health insurance coverage, the AP/New York Times reports. In the ad, Obama says, "I'll be the president who finally makes health care affordable to every single American by bringing Democrats and Republicans together." The 30-second ad features a May 29, 2007, Associated Press headline that stated, "Obama offers universal health care plan." However, the article "did not represent Obama's plan as universal health care," according to the AP/Times analysis of the ad. The original article stated, "Obama's first promise as a presidential candidate was that he would sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of his first term in the White House." (AP/New York Times, 1/16).
- Obama began to air a television ad in Arizona on Saturday that discusses the experience his mother had with cancer and his health care plan, the Washington Post's "The Trail" reports (Kurtz, "The Trail," Washington Post, 1/13). In the 30-second ad, Obama says, "My mother died of cancer at 53. In those last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well." He says, "For 20 years Washington has talked about health care reform and reformed nothing," adding, "I've got a plan to cut costs and cover everyone. But unless we stop the bickering and the lobbyists, we will be in the same place 20 years from now" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/12).