Health Care News From the Campaign Trail for the Week of June 6
On Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) secured an adequate number of delegates to become the presumptive nominee, the Washington Post reports (Balz/Kornblut, Washington Post, 6/4).
Obama also won the Montana Democratic primary with 57% of the vote, compared with 41% for opponent Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Clinton won the South Dakota primary with 55% of the vote, compared with 45% for Obama (CNN.com, 6/4).
In a speech to supporters, Clinton said she would continue her efforts to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents. She said, "It is a fight I will continue until every single American has health insurance. No exceptions and no excuses" (Kuhnhenn/Fouhy, AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/3).
At a rally, Obama said, "And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country -- and we will win that fight -- [Clinton] will be central to that victory" (CNN.com, 6/4).
The Wall Street Journal on Friday compared the health care proposals of Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
According to the Journal, "Obama wants all Americans to have health insurance," and he would "increase regulations and spend tax dollars to do it." For example, his proposal would prohibit health insurers from rejecting applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions.
Meanwhile, "McCain wouldn't likely make a big dent in the number of uninsured, but would decrease regulations to give people more choices," the Journal reports. His proposal, for example, would allow residents to purchase health insurance across state lines (Wall Street Journal graphic, 6/6).
In a Wall Street Journal interview published on Saturday, Ralph Nader said that Obama is "really a corporate Democrat" whose record is "not one of challenging corporate power." Nader is an independent presidential candidate.
Nader said that the Obama health care proposal "lets the health insurance companies continue their redundant, wasteful, often corrupt -- in terms of billing fraud -- ways, ripping off Medicare." Nader said that he supports a single-payer health care system (Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal, 5/31).
- Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) proposal to bolster high-risk insurance pools would replace a tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with refundable tax credits for the purchase of private coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports. Fewer than 200,000 U.S. residents currently are enrolled in high-risk health insurance pools, which charge "high premiums and sometimes sharply restrict benefits," according to the Journal. In 2006, premiums provided 61% of the funds for high-risk health insurance pools, with most of the remainder of the funds -- about $722 million, or an average of $3,800 per enrollee -- provided by state governments (Meckler/Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 6/2).
- During a rally at a Bristol, Va., high school on Thursday, Obama said that McCain's health care proposal would not expand health insurance to all U.S. residents, the Washington Times reports. Obama said that the proposal only "takes care of the healthy and the wealthy" (Bellantoni/Lambro, Washington Times, 6/6). According to Obama, although health insurance premiums have increased at a higher rate than wages and millions of residents have lost coverage since President Bush took office in 2001, "McCain actually wants to double down on the failed policies that have done so little to help ordinary Americans" (Rucker, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/5). Obama said that he would finance his health care proposal -- which 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 -- in part through disease prevention programs and a paperless health care information technology system (Simon, Media General/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/6).
- In an interview with CongressDaily this week, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said that he "can be helpful ... in a prospective Obama administration on health care reform" and that he has interest in the position of HHS secretary. Daschle in February published the book "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," in which he proposed a Federal Health Board to "create a public framework for a largely private health care delivery system" (McPike, CongressDaily, 6/5).