Obama Positions on Health Care Differ from Rivals’
Universal health care is a major issue being addressed by Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential election, "but differences are emerging over how to get there," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who counts Harvard economist David Cutler -- a health policy specialist who served in former President Bill Clinton's administration -- among his advisers, has not "yet settled on the specifics of his health care plan," the Journal reports. However, Obama's aides say that he likely would not overhaul the current employer-sponsored health system and might not support a mandate for individuals to purchase health coverage.
Obama's stance differs from that of fellow candidate John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, who has proposed a health plan that would require all individuals to purchase coverage and require businesses to offer coverage to workers or contribute to health insurance costs.
However, Obama "goes further" than fellow candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), by "pledging to have all individuals covered by the end of his first term," the Journal reports, adding that Clinton "says it will take eight years to achieve that goal."
Obama also is considering proposals that would help reduce health care costs, such as creating state or national health care pools and offering hospitals and physicians financial incentives to adopt electronic health records.
In his book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama proposes appointing a nonpartisan group to design cost-effective health coverage, which individuals could purchase through pools, with private insurers competing for their business.
In addition, Obama's health care agenda includes finding ways to keep health care costs low for businesses and to "ensure that business can compete in a global economy and that not all the costs are being beared by individuals," an aide said.
One example of how Obama might approach health policy is the "Health Care for Hybrids" bill he reintroduced last week, the Journal reports. Under the measure, car manufacturers would receive federal assistance for retiree health care costs in exchange for building more fuel-efficient automobiles (Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 4/24).