Health Care News From the Campaign Trail for the Week of June 13
The recent decision by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to suspend her campaign "will deal a blow" to supporters of requiring individuals to buy health insurance coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, the individual mandate represented an "important tenet of Sen. Clinton's health care plan and the only substantive difference" between her proposal and the plan of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and has become "dominant ... in the national discussion over how to expand coverage to the country's nearly 50 million uninsured."
Obama "hasn't ruled out" an individual mandate as an "option down the road," but he maintains that such a mandate would prove "ineffective without first making insurance plans affordable," according to the Journal.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) opposes an individual health insurance mandate (Fuhrmans/Goldstein, Wall Street Journal, 6/7).
Obama and McCain need to release more details about their health care proposals to allow the public to determine the cost, as well as whether the plans are "practical and can be successful," Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, 2008 president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said last week, the Kansas City Star reports.
Praeger said the proposals should address the need for adequate, affordable and continual health insurance and include wellness, disease management and smoking cessation programs. In addition, she said that the proposals should promote the use of generic medications, electronic health records and increased responsibility for health care among consumers.
Praeger also said that employers should not have to cover the full cost of health insurance (Karash, Kansas City Star, 6/9).
Obama and McCain are planning to increase their "courting" of women voters, including women who supported Clinton in the Democratic primary, the Washington Post reports.
Carly Fiorina -- former CEO for Hewlett-Packard and a McCain supporter -- has scheduled a "female-focused" speaking tour on behalf of McCain in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Post reports. According to the Post, Fiorina's speeches are part of McCain's "unconventional pitch" to women that focuses on issues -- including climate change and portable, private health insurance -- that he hopes will trump such "traditional" women's issues as "equal pay, abortion rights and contraception coverage" (Eilperin, Washington Post, 6/12).
Planned Parenthood Action Fund plans to host 250 parties nationwide next week where women's advocates will promote Obama's legislative record on various issues, including abortion rights and contraception coverage. PPAF also has started distributing materials advertising McCain's support for overturning Roe v. Wade, as well as his opposition to federal funding for comprehensive sex education in the U.S. and family planning services in other countries (Eilperin, Washington Post, 6/12).
- At the 2008 National Small Business Summit, a meeting of the National Federation of Independent Business, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, McCain discussed his health care proposal, the Austin American-Statesman reports (Dart, Austin American-Statesman, 6/11). During his speech, McCain said, "I believe that the best way to help small businesses and employers afford health care is not to increase government control of health care but to bring the rising cost of care under control and give people the option of having personal, portable health insurance" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/10).
- During a visit to St. Louis Children's Hospital on Tuesday, Obama promoted his health care proposal, USA Today reports (Jackson, USA Today, 6/11). Obama also criticized the McCain health care proposal (Apuzzo/Babington, AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/10). The proposal would replace an income tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with a refundable tax credit of as much as $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families for the purchase of private coverage (Bacon, Washington Post, 6/11). Obama said that McCain is "offering a tax cut that won't ensure that health care is affordable for hardworking families who need help most," adding that "his plan could actually put your coverage at risk by undermining the employer-based system that most Americans depend on" (Curl, Washington Times, 6/11).
- On Monday, Obama began a two-week economic tour in Raleigh, N.C., where he discussed his proposals to address the economy, health care and other issues, the AP/Philadelphia Daily News reports (Babington, AP/Philadelphia Daily News, 6/10). During his speech, Obama promoted his health care proposal, which he said would reduce health spending by $2,500 per family (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/9). The proposal would mandate health insurance for children and require employers to offer health insurance or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a federal fund to provide coverage (Sabar, Christian Science Monitor, 6/10). Obama said that the proposal would provide subsidies to help U.S. residents who cannot afford health insurance (Bacon, "The Trail," Washington Post, 6/10). In addition, health insurers could not deny coverage to residents with pre-existing medical conditions, Obama said (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/9). Obama also linked McCain with President Bush on health care and other issues (AP/Philadelphia Daily News, 6/10). McCain has said that Obama proposes an "economic agenda based upon the policies of the past that advocate higher taxes, bigger government, government-run health care and greater isolationism" (Christian Science Monitor, 6/10).
- On Monday, Obama also promised to work with Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), on health care issues, the New York Daily News reports. Elizabeth Edwards last month declined to endorse Obama with her husband. In an interview with People magazine, she said, "I don't like his health care plan or his advertising on health care, which I think is misleading." Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for Obama, said that he has no plans for a "formal" relationship with Elizabeth Edwards but added that he "looks forward to seeking" her recommendations on health care issues (Saul, New York Daily News, 6/10).