Republican Candidates Debate Health Care, Other Issues
Eight Republican presidential candidates on Sunday during a debate in Orlando, Fla., "duked it out" over health care and other issues, "united only in their attacks" on Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and her proposal to extend health insurance to all U.S. residents, the St. Petersburg Times reports (Liberto, St. Petersburg Times, 10/22).
The Fox News Channel and the Florida Republican Party sponsored the debate (Cooper/Santora, New York Times, 10/22).
During the debate, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) called health care "one of the defining issues" of the campaign (Schatz/Davis, Wall Street Journal, 10/22). The "key is, make health care in America affordable and available," he said, adding, "Don't destroy it, as the Democrats want to do."
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, "If we have 50 or 60 million" who purchase individual health insurance, compared with about 17 million currently, the "price of health insurance would be cut in more than half."
Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) criticized individual and employer health insurance mandates (Youngman, The Hill, 10/21).
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said, "We have a health care maze. ... If we don't change the health of this nation by focusing on prevention, we're never going to catch up with the costs no matter what plan we have."
In addition, Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) said that undocumented immigrants would cost the health care system "$1 billion a year in California" and would cause 86 hospitals to close (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/21).
- Clinton: Clinton on Sunday at a Las Vegas community center said that as president she would "return to the lion's den" and seek to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Clinton said, "I've been down this road. I know it won't be easy. But I think the time has come" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/21).
- Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.): Obama on Thursday at a town hall meeting at the Grand Sierra Resort in Las Vegas said that the health care proposal Clinton offered in the 1990s failed because she "closed the doors" to "potential allies" and developed the plan "just with her own people," the AP/Nevada Appeal reports. He said, "I will open up the process. We will have a big table in my first 100 days. Doctors and nurses and patients and consumers groups and yes, the insurance companies, they'll get a seat," adding, "They just won't be able to buy all the chairs" (Sonner, AP/Nevada Appeal, 10/19).
- Federal Employees Health Benefits Program expansions: The New York Times on Saturday examined how proposals that would allow all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance through expansions of FEHBP make for a "compelling stump speech" and would serve as "workable way to reach some of the uninsured" but would not help address the "nation's runaway medical costs." Democratic presidential candidates Clinton, Obama and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) have proposed expansions of FEHBP. According to Peter Lee, CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health,"It would be a very expensive system that would not necessarily be on the cutting edge." He added, "You don't control costs by being big" (Abelson, New York Times, 10/20).
- Health care proposals: The Wall Street Journal on Sunday examined how, although "voters have a clear choice of approach" on health care because the "difference between the two parties is stark," none of the plans is "detailed enough to show exactly how consumers' wallets -- or quality of care -- would be affected." Democrats and Republicans "both support beefed-up prevention efforts and greater use of health information technology," but they "disagree on almost everything else," the Journal reports (McGinley, Wall Street Journal, 10/21).
In other election news, members of the Republican Governors Association on Sunday attended a retreat in Lake Oconee, Ga., that focused on "creating a new face for the GOP" on the issue of health care, a concern "fast emerging as the top domestic issue for many Americans," the AP/Miami Herald reports. At the retreat, Karl Rove, a former adviser to President Bush, said that Republican candidates must focus on health care because the issue is "on the minds of a lot of swing voters."
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, said, "When Americans have no ideas and Democrats have bad ideas" on health care, "Americans will choose bad ideas because Americans will almost always choose something rather than nothing." RGA Executive Director Nick Ayers said, "This is the beginning of the RGA pushing a theme that really good policy equals good politics" (McCaffrey, AP/Miami Herald, 10/21).
Meanwhile, researchers -- with the help of organizations, medical schools and the health care industry -- will seek to "raise the profile" of the "erosion of federal funding for medical research" through efforts in several states with early presidential primaries and caucuses, the Baltimore Sun reports. According to the Sun, to "attract interest in their cause, the researchers want to piggyback on the issue of health care" through the argument that improvement in medicine requires scientific advances. The researchers will target Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
Mary Wolley, president of ResearchAmerica, which has organized the effort, said, "It's getting it into their lexicon, their planning, so it's an assumption they will do it" (Rockoff, Baltimore Sun, 10/22).
Summaries of several recent interviews with presidential candidates related to health appear below.
- ABC's "Good Morning America": The segment includes a discussion with Clinton about her health care proposal (Johnson, "Good Morning America," ABC, 10/19). Video of the segment and expanded ABC News coverage are available online.
- CBS' "Face the Nation": The segment includes a discussion with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) about health care and other issues (Schieffer, "Face the Nation," CBS, 10/21). Video of the segment is available online. A transcript of the complete program also is available online.
- Washingtonpost.com: Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) recently discussed health care and other issues in a washingtonpost.com online chat (Biden, washingtonpost.com, 10/19). A transcript of the chat is available online. Edwards also discussed health care and other issues in a recent washingtonpost.com online chat (Edwards, washingtonpost.com, 10/18). A transcript of the chat is available online.