Health Care News From the Campaign Trail for the Week of May 30
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) "must be careful" on the issue of abortion because of public opinion, but they might need to use their positions on abortion rights to "stir their party's bases," Reuters reports.
McCain, who opposes abortion rights, could be unable to win the presidency without the support of evangelical Christians, who might not be "wildly enthusiastic" about his candidacy but "point to his pro-life stance as reason" to support him, according to Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University.
Allen Hertzke, director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma, said Obama's support of abortion rights could help him secure support from white women who voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Democratic presidential primaries (Stoddard, Reuters, 5/28).
- During a press teleconference from South Dakota last week, Clinton pledged that if elected, she would increase funding for the Indian Health Service, improve health services provided to American Indians not living on reservations and expand health insurance coverage to all American Indians as part of her plan to insure all U.S. residents, the Billings Gazette reports. Clinton made the comments as she outlined a nine-point agenda for Montana tribes as part of her campaign in that state and South Dakota, which will hold Democratic primaries on June 3 (Lutey, Billings Gazette, 5/23).
- Obama is in "excellent health," according to a health summary released on Thursday by his personal physician of 21 years, the Chicago Tribune reports (McCormick, Chicago Tribune, 5/30). In a one-page statement, David Scheiner, an internist at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Rush University Medical Center, wrote that Obama "is in overall good physical and mental health needed to maintain the resiliency required in the office of president" (Altman/Zeleny, New York Times, 5/30). The Obama campaign declined to indicate whether he will release his complete medical records (Chicago Tribune, 5/30).
- In Denver this week, Obama said that during the first 100 days of his presidency, his administration would focus on three main issues -- expansion of health insurance to more residents, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and efforts to address issues related to energy and climate change. Obama said that "we need" legislation "by March or April to get going before the political season sets in" (Dorning, "The Swamp," Chicago Tribune, 5/28).
- Obama has not "emphasized any signature domestic issue or signaled that he would take his party in a new direction," the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, Obama has announced a number of policy proposals -- such as his plan to expand health insurance coverage -- that "differ little" from those announced by Clinton and others during the primaries. However, Obama aides maintain that "their approach will work because most voters are not looking for a new vision for expanding health care but rather for a reformed political system such as the one Obama calls for," according to the Post (Bacon, Washington Post, 5/29).