Health Care Issues Likely To Play Large Role in 2004 Presidential Campaigns, Pollsters Predict
Health care issues will likely play a large role in the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic and Republican pollsters said Monday in a forum sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform, Long Island Newsday reports (Barfield Berry, Long Island Newsday, 10/21). Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, president of Lake Snell Perry and Associates, cited recent polls conducted by the group that found that 44% of New Hampshire primary voters and 41% of Iowa caucus voters cited health care as their most important concern (Davis, CongressDaily/AM, 10/21). In addition, in a recent Pew Research Center poll, respondents cited health care as their second-most important concern behind the economy. John Holahan, director of the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, said that presidential candidates would "be hard pressed not to deal with" health care issues in their campaigns (Long Island Newsday, 10/21). According to CongressDaily/AM, the debate over Medicare reform also could play a role in presidential and other campaigns in 2004. Republican pollster Bill McInturff, a partner in Public Opinion Strategies, said that passage of a Republican-supported Medicare bill could provide GOP candidates with a "potent way to block Democrats in (2004)." However, Lake said, "If (Congress) passes a bill that is bad ... it will be bad for Republicans" (CongressDaily/AM, 10/21).
At a forum on children's issues on Monday in New Hampshire, presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) said that his health care proposal would provide universal health coverage for U.S. children, USA Today reports (USA Today, 10/21). The $53 billion proposal, announced in July, would require parents to provide health coverage for children through age 21. The proposal would provide tax credits to help lower-income families purchase health coverage for their children through employers or the SCHIP program (California Healthline, 7/29). Edwards said that the proposal would provide health insurance to "every single child, 100%, covered by law" (Raleigh News & Observer, 10/21). Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who also spoke at the forum, said that his health care proposal would provide health coverage to 99% of U.S. children and 97% of parents within three years (USA Today, 10/21). Under that proposal, announced in May, the federal government would assume state expenditures for children enrolled in Medicaid. In exchange, states would expand their CHIP programs to cover all children and parents with household incomes that do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. The proposal would allow individuals to purchase health coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and includes tax credits and other subsidies to help individuals purchase health insurance (California Healthline, 5/28).
Meanwhile, six Democratic presidential candidates last week "appeared to have been caught off guard" when Chuck Todd, editor of Hotline, asked them which health insurance plan they had, the Washington Post reports. Reps. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Edwards and Kerry said that they receive health insurance through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) said that he purchases health coverage through COBRA, adding that "it's expensive." Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) said that she receives health insurance through the state of Illinois. A campaign spokesperson "was not certain why" the state provides Moseley Braun with health coverage but said that "it may have been a perk from her days as a state legislator," the Post reports (Connolly, Washington Post, 10/20). MPR's "Marketplace" on Monday interviewed Dr. Jack Meyer, president of the Economic and Social Research Institute, about why health care has "moved to the forefront" in the minds of middle-class U.S. residents and the role health care will play in the upcoming presidential elections (Brown, "Marketplace," MPR, 10/20). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.