Presidential Candidates Tackle Health Care
Summaries of several recent developments in the presidential campaign related to health care appear below.
Biden discussed his health care proposal in an interview with the Sioux City Journal editorial board on Wednesday.
Biden said that the proposal would provide catastrophic health insurance, coverage for medical bills that exceed $50,000 for treatment of catastrophic conditions, to help reduce health care costs. In addition, the proposal also would allow U.S. residents to pay to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and allow residents ages 55 to 64 to pay to participate in Medicare, he said.
According to Biden, he would finance the proposal through the elimination of tax cuts proposed by President Bush and approved by Congress for residents with annual incomes more than $435,000, a move that would provide $85 billion in additional revenue.
Biden, who cited a "national social obligation" to expand access to health insurance as more employers drop coverage, said that health care reform can occur, provided that the changes are not "stark departures" from the current system. He added, "I don't want a whole new bureaucracy" (Hayworth, Sioux City Journal, 10/18).
At a forum organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals on Thursday, Clinton discussed her proposal to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents,CQ HealthBeat reports. Clinton called the proposal a "sensible, centrist" framework for health care reform and said she would "work out the details in consultation with Congress" during her first term as president (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 10/18).
She said, "I have no illusions about how hard it is, but I think the country is ready for this. I believe we can get the consensus" (Kenen, Reuters, 10/18).
Clinton also dismissed criticism of her proposal from Republicans that it would lead to "government-run health care" as "old, tired accusations" (Fouhy, AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/19).
According to Clinton, the proposal would increase competition in the health care marketplace. She also said that the proposal would not provide health insurance for undocumented immigrants (CQ HealthBeat, 10/18).
"People here legally deserve some better treatment and acceptance in the law than people who are not here legally," she said (AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/19).
On the issue of Medicare, Clinton said that she would allow the federal government to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies under the prescription drug benefit and would seek to eliminate "inefficiencies and exorbitant" costs in the program (CQ HealthBeat, 10/18).
Clinton also cited the need to address the issue of obesity (McAuliff, New York Daily News, 10/19).
Edwards on Thursday received an endorsement from the Massachusetts chapter of the Service Employees International Union, the 11th state chapter to endorse him, in part because of his record on health care, the AP/Newsday reports.
Rocio Saenz, president of SEIU Local 615 in Boston, said, "John Edwards understands the everyday struggles of working families and without question John Edwards would be the best labor president in the history of the United States."
Edwards said, "These workers have felt the negative impact of a broken system in Washington that is rigged against America's working families for far too long -- a system that is responsible for the millions of working Americans who still can't afford health insurance" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/18).
At a Minnesota diner on Thursday, Giuliani said that he agreed with the recent decision by Bush to veto a bill that would have reauthorized and expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. He criticized the legislation as "part of a Democratic plan to get us as close to socialized medicine as they can" (Lohn, AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10/18).
Giuliani called the bill a "treat with a big trick in it."
In addition, he raised concerns that the bill would have prompted parents to enroll children who currently have private health insurance in SCHIP (Salisbury, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10/18).