Health Care News From the Campaign Trail for the Week of April 25
Health care will produce "some of the sharpest differences" between Democrats and Republicans in the presidential election as the candidates "respond to increasing economic anxiety about many issues," the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, Democratic candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) "want to use government as a lever" to expand health insurance to more U.S. residents. Both candidates would use the federal government to establish a marketplace in which residents could purchase private or public health insurance, with subsidies for lower-income residents, and would prohibit health insurers from rejecting applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions.
The most significant difference in the proposals involves the question of whether to mandate that all residents obtain health insurance. Clinton would implement such a mandate, but Obama would require coverage only for children.
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who "doesn't think it is up to government to ensure that all citizens are insured," would seek to "give people more control" over their health insurance through the free market, the Journal reports. "The centerpiece of his plan is severing the link between health insurance and employment," according to the Journal.
McCain would replace a tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with a tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families for the purchase of private coverage. He has said that Clinton and Obama "want government to take over the health care system" (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 4/19).
Democratic lawmakers are "maneuvering to lower public expectations" about the prospects of health care proposals offered by Clinton and Obama amid concerns that "sweeping change will be difficult," The Hill reports.
According to The Hill, in the event that the majority party in Congress sought to "rush" on health care reform, the minority party might "hunker down -- as was the case with ... President Bill Clinton's attempt at addressing health care policy" in the 1990s. However, The Hill reports that the prospects for health care reform might "fall victim to the political considerations of the next election cycle" if supporters delay action.
Democratic lawmakers have "set smaller goals" for health care legislation, such as the passage of a bill that would reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, The Hill reports (Raju, The Hill, 4/23).
- During a speech on Monday in Scranton, Pa., Clinton promised to seek to expand health insurance to all residents and address other issues (Nicholas/Levey, Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
- During a speech on Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa., Clinton said that Obama has "misrepresented" her health care proposal. She said that "the last thing we need is somebody spending as much money as he has downgrading universal health care" (Fitzgerald/Infield, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/21).
- In response to an ad by the Obama campaign, a group that supports Clinton aired a TV ad in Pennsylvania that claims the Obama health care proposal would not provide health insurance for all residents (Wall Street Journal, 4/21).
- In a Philadelphia Daily News opinion piece, Clinton writes, "I'm offering solutions to finally provide health care to every man, woman and child in America" as part of an agenda to address a number of important concerns. Clinton writes, "Under my plan, if you have insurance you like, you keep it. Nothing changes. But if you're uninsured or underinsured, you'll have access to the same health plan that members of Congress have." She adds, "And we'll offer tax credits to make sure everyone can afford it" (Clinton, Philadelphia Daily News, 4/21).
- In a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece, Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) writes, "Can there be any doubt that [Clinton] is the best person in this country to make sure everyone -- no exceptions -- has affordable high-quality health care?" Rendell writes, "Hillary was fighting to fix America's health care system and cover everyone long before it was popular," adding, "And now, Hillary is the only candidate in this race to truly offer universal health care that covers everyone" (Rendell, Christian Science Monitor, 4/21).
- In response to a reporter's question about health care coverage and high rates of chronic disease in Appalachia, McCain said that his administration would emphasize "wellness and fitness," the Los Angeles Times reports. The exchange took place at a campaign appearance in Inez, Ky., as part of McCain's nationwide tour of "forgotten places." He also cited his plan to provide $5,000 tax credits to help individuals buy health insurance and added that he would ask professional athletes to go to rural communities to discuss nutrition (Reston, Los Angeles Times, 4/24).
- NARAL Pro-Choice America recently launched the website MeetTheRealMcCain.com to highlight McCain's position on abortion rights, Newsweek reports. According to Newsweek, some abortion-rights groups are "nervous" that McCain's voting record of opposition to abortion rights is being eclipsed by his "maverick" reputation and is not "speaking loudly enough" to voters. According to Newsweek, PPFA is working on an "aggressive" education campaign aimed at female voters in "battleground" states. NARAL Pro-Choice America has purchased ads on Google that ask "Is McCain Pro-Choice?" and link to a NARAL site. The National Right to Life Committee, which recently endorsed McCain, said it welcomes the efforts of abortion-rights groups (Kliff/Bailey, Newsweek, 4/28).
- On Monday at a Blue Bell, Pa., town hall meeting, Obama said that he would seek to overhaul the health care system to expand affordable health insurance as part of his agenda for his first 100 days in office (Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
- The Obama campaign aired a television advertisement in Pennsylvania that claims Clinton might garnish wages to enforce the individual health insurance mandate in her health care proposal, the Journal reports (Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 4/21). According to the ad, "Hillary Clinton is attacking, but what's she not telling you about her health care plan? It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can't afford it" (Kornblut/Murray, Washington Post, 4/20).