Richardson Pitches Health Care Proposal During Forum
Presidential candidate New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) on Monday during a forum in Washington, D.C., organized by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals discussed his proposal to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents, CQ HealthBeat reports. During the forum, Richardson said, "I absolutely believe that all Americans should have quality, affordable health care."
He said that he would not seek to establish a health care system administered by the federal government because "we can get a better bang for the buck before going with something new." In addition, Richardson said that he would take a "market-based" approach to health care focused on "rapidly expanding coverage through current models."
Under his proposal, companies would have to offer health insurance to employees and in some cases would receive tax credits in exchange.
Health insurers also could not deny coverage to applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions. The proposal also would provide veterans with a "heroes health card" that would allow them to receive care at health care facilities outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs network.
Richardson said that he would finance the proposal with savings from increased use of electronic health records, the elimination of tax cuts for higher-income residents, a shift in funds from the war in Iraq and the elimination of congressional earmarks (Walker, CQ HealthBeat, 11/19).
Richardson also criticized health savings accounts as "a step backward" and said they "put working families at risk" because most "cannot afford to pay the ... out-of-pocket costs" (Goldstein, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 11/19).
At a Nevada elementary school, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) recently discussed her health care proposal, the Nevada Appeal reports (Maresh, Nevada Appeal, 11/18).
Under the proposal, which would require all residents to obtain health insurance, large employers would have to offer coverage to employees or contribute to a federal fund that would help workers purchase coverage. In addition, the proposal would provide tax subsidies to small businesses to help cover the cost of health insurance for employees.
The proposal also would allow employers to select health plans from a network of private plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or a public plan modeled on Medicare (California Healthline, 9/24).
Clinton said, "I believe, if it is good enough for Congress, it is good enough for anyone" (Nevada Appeal, 11/18).
The top candidates remain "locked in a close battle in Iowa," according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Monday, the Post reports (Washington Post/ABC News poll).
The poll -- similar to results from July -- provides "harbingers of concern for Clinton," according to the Post. "The factors that have made Clinton the clear national front-runner -- including her overwhelming leads on the issues of the Iraq war and health care, a widespread sense that she is the Democrats' most electable candidate, and her strong support among women -- do not appear to be translating on the ground in Iowa," the Post reports.
Twenty-six percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers cited health care as the most important issue in their choice for president, second to the war in Iraq (Kornblut/Cohn, Washington Post, 11/20).
The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday examined how the "Achilles' heel" of the health care proposals announced by the major Republican presidential candidates is their "dependence on the private market, which often rejects applicants with health problems."
According to the Times, the health care proposals announced by Republican candidates seek to increase the number of residents who purchase private insurance through tax incentives, but the plans "generally pick the healthiest applicants and turn the rest away." For example, cancer survivors -- "even if they have been free of disease for several years -- are routinely denied health insurance when they try to purchase it as individuals," the Times reports.
Karen Pollitz, a Georgetown University researcher specializing in the field, said, "Most companies won't touch you if you have a cancer history within five years, and with some companies ... if you've ever had cancer, you can't get coverage" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 11/20).
- Clinton, Des Moines Register: U.S. residents "need a president who's been tested -- who's ready to lead on day one and fight for results every day in the White House" -- and as president "I'll set four big goals for our country," such as the expansion of health care insurance to all residents, Clinton writes in a Register opinion piece. She adds that she will seek to improve "scientific innovation -- including stem cell research -- so that our children can benefit from cures, discoveries and technologies that we couldn't even dream of today." Clinton concludes, "Together, we can build the future our children and grandchildren deserve" (Clinton, Des Moines Register, 11/20).
- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: The major Democratic presidential candidates have used "their rather small differences to highlight larger contrasts in experience, temperament and character," Post columnist Dionne writes. He writes, "All support some sort of universal health coverage," although Clinton and Edwards would require all residents to obtain coverage and Obama would not. According to Dionne, "Edwards and Clinton are right about the mandate, but most voters will focus on which candidate is likely to get any kind of universal health care passed" (Dionne, Washington Post, 11/20).