Health Care Election News for the Week of Jan., 4 2008
Almost two-thirds of U.S. residents support a health care system "in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers," according to a recent poll commissioned by AP/Yahoo!News.
The poll, conducted online by Knowledge Networks, included telephone contacts with more than 1,800 residents followed by online interviews.
The poll also found that 64% of respondents cited concerns about the possibility of unexpected major medical expenses (Kuhnhenn/Tompson, Associated Press, 12/28/07).
In related news, a recent Boston Globe poll of likely voters in the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary found that 80% of Democratic respondents believe the federal government should provide health insurance, compared with 30% of Republican respondents (Mooney, Boston Globe, 12/26/07).
Last week, PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" reported on the latest in a series of health policy forums in Washington, D.C., organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals.
Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Joe Biden (Del.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y); former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.); Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio); and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson participated (Dentzer, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 12/25/07).
Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online.
- On Wednesday, Clinton planned to launch a television ad in Iowa that will ask voters to "take the first step" in efforts to address health care and other issues through their support for her in the caucuses. In the ad, Clinton says, "As we start this new year, America is at a crossroads," with "47 million people without health care." She adds, "All the men and women across the state who have whispered their health care problems to me -- bills they can't pay, parents they can't afford to care for, insurance companies who refuse to help" -- have "welcomed me into your hearts and your homes" (Glover, AP/Kansas City Star, 1/2).
- During an appearance at the Iowa Veterans Home on Dec. 23, Clinton reiterated her promise to provide adequate health care and other benefits to U.S. troops who return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clinton said, "I believe that when you sign up to serve our country, our country must serve you with the health care, the compensation and the support that you so richly deserve" (Lorentzen, AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/25/07).
- Clinton enters the Iowa caucuses on Thursday "not as the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee but seriously challenged ... thanks in no small part to committing a strategic error: premature triangulation" in her health care proposal, columnist Robert Novak writes in the Washington Post. A "longtime Democratic consultant, not involved in any campaign this time," suggested to a campaign "intermediary" that Clinton propose a "genuine universal health care scheme" -- under which U.S. residents "would be covered by Medicare, except those who chose to retain their private health insurance plans," according to Novak. Instead, Clinton "prematurely introduced a general election strategy when in fact the party nomination was still in doubt," Novak writes (Novak, Washington Post, 1/3).
- In northern Iowa on Sunday, Edwards addressed questions by the Obama campaign about comments he made last year about the role of special interests in health care reform. In comments made in a story on the Web site www.mydd.com, Edwards said that he would "try to bring everybody to the table" on health care reform, although during his campaign he has said that he would not negotiate with special interests. Edwards on Sunday said that he meant health insurers would continue to play a role in the health care system under his proposal. He said, "What I was talking about then was what we needed to do to actually bring about universal health care and the difference between single-payer, government-run health care and what I'm proposing." Edwards added, "I don't eliminate insurance companies from the health care fix. ... People have choice in my health care proposal between a private plan and a government-run plan" (Chicago Tribune, 12/31/07).
- On Friday during a campaign event in Dubuque, Iowa, Edwards "tried to distinguish himself from his Democratic rivals" on health care and other issues, the New York Times reports (Bosman/Luo, New York Times, 12/29/07).
- "I am running for president to make sure that every child can have the same opportunities in life that I've had," and one "thing we need to do is create universal health care in America," Edwards writes in a Globe opinion piece. "Not only are health care costs putting a huge strain on American families and our competitiveness in the global economy, but our broken health care system that leaves 47 million Americans without health care is also a moral disgrace," Edwards writes, adding, "I have proposed a health care plan that calls for shared responsibility among people, businesses and the government and will ensure that every man, woman and child in America has access to affordable, quality coverage" (Edwards, Boston Globe, 12/28/07).
On Dec. 28, the Times examined consultant work provided by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) to Purdue Pharma in efforts to defend against federal allegations that the company misled the public about the potential addictiveness of the pain medication OxyContin.
According to the Times, Giuliani participated in two meetings between Purdue Pharma officials and the Drug Enforcement Administration acting administrator, and, as a "celebrity, Mr. Giuliani helped the company win several public relations battles." In addition, Giuliani "became the public face" of Rx Action Alliance -- a group of pharmaceutical companies, physicians and law enforcement authorities that seeks to fight prescription drug abuse, the Times reports (Meier/Lipton, New York Times, 12/28/07).
In a meeting with the editorial board of Kucinich on Wednesday Foster's Daily Democrat on Wednesday, Kucinich cited the importance of health care and discussed his proposal to establish a single-payer system.
Kucinich said that his proposal would provide "people with a doctor of their choice," adding that "insurance companies aren't going to be making the money." Currently, "insurance companies make money (by) not providing health care," he said, adding, "That's how the system's set up."
According to Kucinich, "Medicare, essentially, is built to be efficient," and "it has worked for many people." However, the "Bush administration's philosophy has been to move increasingly toward the privatization of Medicare," he said, adding, "They don't want Medicare to work ... the (federal government) is trying to drive up the costs, (and) they're limiting reimbursements to physicians to discourage them from participating in the system" (Claffey, Foster's Daily Democrat, 1/3).
- At a Perry, Iowa, community center on Monday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) defended his proposal against claims made by Edwards. In response to claims by Edwards that Obama should not negotiate with health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, Obama said, "I'd have a big table, and everybody would be invited." He added, "Yes, I'd invite the drug companies and the insurance companies and the HMOs. They'd have seats. They just wouldn't be able to buy every chair." He also said that C-SPAN would televise the negotiations to increase the influence of the public and reduce the influence of special interests. Obama said, "That's how you get things done, not by shouting" (Eichel, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/1).
- NBC's "Meet the Press" included a discussion with Obama about his health care proposal and other issues on Sunday (Russert, "Meet the Press," NBC, 12/30). Video and a transcript of the complete program is available online.
- On Dec. 28, Obama launched a television advertisement in Iowa that promotes his health care proposal over those announced by Edwards and Clinton. According to the Washington Post "The Trail," the ad "misrepresents some newspaper assessments" of the Obama proposal. The ad cites a St. Paul Pioneer Press article that said the Obama proposal "guarantees coverage for all Americans" but omits the end of the statement: "but does not require all to have it." The ad also cites an Iowa City Press-Citizen article that praised the Obama proposal as "the best." However, the ad fails to indicate that the article involved a comparison of the proposal to a single-payer health care system, not the plans announced by Clinton and Edwards. In addition, the ad cites a Post article that states the Obama proposal would save "$2,500 for the typical family," although the article attributed the figure to Obama aides without outside verification (Kurtz, "The Trail," Washington Post, 12/29/07).
- In Mason City, Iowa, last week, Obama promised to not "play politics" on the issue of health care for veterans. Obama said that he would seek to improve health care for veterans and provide them with mental health screenings. According to Obama, "We have to fund all the services that have been promised to our veterans. We can't play politics with it" (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 12/27/07).