Poll: Health Care a Key Issue for Democratic Voters
Health care and the war in Iraq are "essentially tied" as the most important issue Democratic voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina want presidential candidates to address, with each cited by about one-third of voters in each state, according to an Associated Press/Pew Research Center for People and the Press survey released on Monday, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The survey, which researchers conducted by telephone between Nov. 7 and Nov. 25, included responses from 460 likely Democratic voters in Iowa, with a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points; 594 in New Hampshire, with a margin of error of five percentage points; and 373 in South Carolina, with a margin of error of six percentage points.
According to the survey, 41% of respondents in Iowa cited Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as the Democratic presidential candidate most trusted to improve the health care system, about double the percentage of respondents who cited Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).
The survey found that Clinton "boasts even wider leads" in New Hampshire and South Carolina as the Democratic presidential candidate most trusted to improve the health care system, the AP/Star Tribune reports. Overall, a plurality of respondents in New Hampshire and South Carolina favored Clinton over the other Democratic presidential candidates, while she and Obama were "essentially tied" in Iowa, the survey found (Fram/Tompson, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/3).
Edwards on Monday launched an advertisement in New Hampshire that claims health care industry lobbyists have blocked access to health insurance for millions of U.S. residents. In the ad, Edwards says, "You're going to sit at a table with drug companies and oil companies and they're going to give away their power. Right" (Leavitt, USA Today, 12/4).
In related news, the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday examined how Edwards has "shed caution" on health care and other issues in his 2008 presidential campaign. For example, Edwards in his 2004 campaign promoted "health care for every child," but today he "wants it for every American," the Tribune reports (Tankersley, Chicago Tribune, 12/4).
On Monday at printing press manufacturer Goss International, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that as president he would not seek to require all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance and that his health care proposal would focus on efforts to reduce costs, the AP/Star Tribune reports.
McCain said, "Sen. Clinton and the Democrats want to raise your taxes, and they want a government mandate system. I'm not going to mandate that every American have health insurance," adding, "But I'm going to make them all affordable and available."
McCain said that physicians should receive reimbursement for the amount of time they spend on treatment of patients, rather than the number of tests they order.
According to McCain, "Every time we see an increase in medical technology, which gives them a better ability to take care of you, at the same time costs go up" (Ramer, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/3).
Economic concerns such as health care "are supplanting the war in Iraq and concern over terrorism" as a "top spot in voters' minds," the Wall Street Journal reports. In response, Democratic presidential candidates have announced proposals to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents "as one recipe for easing economic uncertainty," and the Republican candidates "tend to focus more on easing regulation and offering tax breaks," according to the Journal.
Clinton adviser Roger Altman said, "The middle class already is suffering from falling real incomes, even before this new economic slowdown," adding, "This slowdown suggests the economy, once again, will be the No. 1 issue in 2008."
According to McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, "Everywhere in town halls, you'll get a question from someone saying, 'I'm worried about losing my job and my health benefits.'" He added, "You have to have a health plan even in the Republican primary, and that's a new development" (Calmes/Phillips, Wall Street Journal, 12/4).
Physicians, hospital officials and health insurer executives, "long considered among the most conservative of Americans," have contributed "much more to Democratic candidates than in past campaigns," possibly an indication that they support an expansion of health insurance to all, or almost all, U.S. residents, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Total campaign contributions from the health care industry to Democratic candidates totaled $6.5 million through September, compared with $4.8 million for Republican candidates during the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
According to the Morning News, physicians and hospital officials would benefit from an expansion of health insurance to all residents because "that ups their chances of getting paid," and health insurer executives "want to ensure that people and companies keep purchasing plans from private insurance companies, as opposed to switching to a government-run system" (Roberson, Dallas Morning News, 12/3).
The National Federation of Independent Business, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and the Motion Picture & Television Fund this December will launch a campaign that includes public service ads focused on health care as an election issue.
The 60-second ads, which will appear on YouTube and the Web site of the Divided We Fail campaign, will feature many celebrities. The ads will state, "Left, right. Red, blue. Liberal, conservative. We may not all share the same views, but we all face the same problems, and we should focus on the issues we have in common" (Cummings, The Politico, 12/3).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Monday included a discussion with presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) about the recently implemented state health insurance law, abortion rights and other issues (Seigel, "All Things Considered," NPR, 12/3).
Audio and a partial transcript of the segment are available online.