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More Than You Wanted to Know About Health Care

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0307/3279.html More Than You Wanted to Know About Health Care By: Roger Simon March 24, 2007 10:16 PM EST LAS VEGAS --
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2007

      More Than You Wanted to Know About Health Care

      By: Roger Simon
      March 24, 2007 10:16 PM EST

      LAS VEGAS -- Because you did not want to spend your
      Saturday sitting in a room for three hours listening
      to Democratic presidential candidates tell you how
      they are going to provide universal health care for
      America, Politico did it for you.

      The candidates appeared in a forum sponsored by the
      Service Employees International Union and the Center
      for American Progress Action Fund. It was moderated by
      Karen Tumulty of Time magazine.

      Here are the highlights in the order that the
      candidates appeared:


      The former senator from North Carolina got a tough
      first question from Tumulty. How could he do two
      “all-consuming” things at once: Both run for president
      and deal with his wife’s incurable cancer?

      “We take our responsibility to serve our country very
      seriously,” Edwards, whose wife attended the forum
      with him, replied. “We want to serve. Both of us.
      Which is why we made the decision to go forward.”

      Then he added: “I think we are getting far too much
      credit when you look at all the millions of women
      struggling with what Elizabeth has without her great
      health care coverage. A lot of women with exactly the
      same diagnosis as Elizabeth had to get up the next
      morning and go to work.”

      What is his plan?

      “I would cover all Americans. There would be shared
      responsibilities: Employers must cover their employees
      or pay into a fund. The government would create health
      care markets and you could choose your health care
      provider. Some would be private and some would be
      Medicare-plus -- kind of single-payer (i.e.
      government-run) plan. Everyone in America will be
      required by law to be covered by a health care plan.”

      How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

      Edwards said his plan will cost $90 billion to $120
      billion per year in government costs. The money would
      come from tax increases, though he prefers the phrase
      “additional sources of revenue.”

      “I do not believe you can have universal health care
      without finding additional sources of revenue,” he
      said. “You don’t get universal health care for free."

      When will we get it?

      In his first term.

      Most intriguing line:

      “Some candidates say they will provide health care,
      improve the environment, end poverty, and eliminate
      the federal deficit. They probably have a bridge in
      Brooklyn to sell you, too. America needs a president
      who is honest and honesty starts right here.”


      The governor of New Mexico said, “We spend $2 trillion
      a year on health care and 31 percent of that is spent
      on bureaucracy and red tape. We must devise a strategy
      that, first of all, does not create any more

      What is his plan?

      All Americans should be able to purchase the same
      coverage as members of Congress and the president.
      Americans 55 and over should be able to purchase their
      coverage through Medicare. Veterans would have access
      to health care “anywhere they want, anytime they

      How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

      Richardson did not give a cost. As to paying for it,
      he said: “Get out of Iraq and put the $400 billion we
      are spending there into human needs. Reduce and
      eliminate inefficiencies (in the health care system).
      This is a plan that could be paid for without any new

      When will we get it?

      “With a Democratic president and a stronger Democratic
      Congress, the plan I outlined will be achieved in my
      first year as president.”

      Most intriguing line:

      “I just signed a statewide smoking ban in New Mexico
      (banning smoking in bars, restaurants, stores, and
      workplaces). I would do that as president.”


      The junior senator from Illinois admitted he does not
      yet have a health care plan but said he will announce
      one in the next few months.

      “The basic principles,” he said, “are everybody is in
      it, there has to be more money for prevention, and
      some form of pooling of costs and risks. If we have
      another forum in a few months and my plan is still not
      on my Web site, I will be in trouble.”

      How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

      Obama did not mention cost, but said, “I think we are
      going to have to put some money in on the front end. I
      think we can make the system more efficient and get a
      lot of money out of the system. I haven’t foreclosed
      on needing additional revenues, but we should not
      underestimate the amount of money that can be saved.”

      When will we get it?

      He didn’t say.

      Most intriguing line:

      “Every four years, somebody trots out a health care
      plan. The question is do we have the political will
      and sense of urgency to actually get it done. I want
      to be held accountable to get it done.”


      The junior senator from New York said, “A lot of
      people like what they have now. We don’t want people
      feeling that government will come in and tell me what
      to do and what doctor I want to go to. We will give
      people a choice. We have to look at that as a

      What is her plan?

      “I am in favor of universal health care coverage that
      brings in the 47 million who are uninsured and that
      begins to guarantee coverage to those who already have
      insurance. Insurance companies spend a lot of money
      trying to avoid insuring you and if they insure you,
      they try to avoid paying for the health care you need.
      Every health insurance company will have to insure
      everybody with no exclusions for pre-existing

      How much will it cost and how will she pay for it?

      She did not give the cost. She said: “There will be
      some investments, but when I talk about how much money
      we need to spend, I cannot see us spending more money
      as a national expenditure without modernizing, ending
      discrimination, and promoting wellness. I don’t think
      we should say we will put more money into a system
      that is broken.”

      When will we get it?

      At a forum in Carson City, Nev., last month, Clinton
      said: “President Kennedy said he wanted a man on the
      moon by the end of the decade. I want universal health
      care coverage by the end of my second term.”

      On Saturday, in Las Vegas, she was less clear as to
      her timetable. “I think we are all going to start as
      soon as possible,” she said. “Make no mistake, this
      will be a series of steps.”

      Most intriguing line:

      “I vaguely remember being young.”


      The senior senator from Connecticut reminded the
      audience that the United States “ranks 26th in life
      expectancy and 28th in infant mortality, yet we
      account for more than 50 percent of the money spent
      worldwide on health care.”

      What is his plan?

      Dodd said his plan has four principles: universality,
      increased emphasis on prevention, expanding Medicare
      and Medicaid, and increasing the use of modern
      technology to lower health care costs.

      How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

      He did not say how much it will cost. He did say, “We
      can pay for it if we can get rid of permanent tax cuts
      for the top one percent of earners and get rid of the
      Iraq war, which is costing us $2 billion a week.”

      When will it happen?

      “I am impatient. I will make this the first order of
      business in a Dodd administration. I would want to see
      it far sooner than four or eight years.”

      Most intriguing line:

      “My house is a Petri dish. One of my children has
      strep throat and another has some kind of adenoidal


      The congressman from Ohio wants a single-payer health
      care system. He didn’t deal with costs or say when it
      would be achieved. But he did say he would fight for
      it no matter what the odds.

      “What if Lincoln had decided there was just too much
      resistance to emancipation?” he said. “Think if
      suffragettes said there was too much resistance to
      women voting. Think if Martin Luther King had said we
      can only push so far for civil rights.”

      Most intriguing line

      “You need a president who didn’t fall out of a
      Christmas tree. You need a president who doesn’t have
      a key in the back being wound up by special


      The former senator from Alaska wants a single-payer
      plan that uses vouchers issued to every American. But
      he is really running for president to promote a plan
      for direct democracy that would allow citizens to
      enact laws without having to rely on Congress.

      Yet, when asked to explain how that would work, Gravel
      said: “I don’t want to take the time to go through the
      whole process. It is a national ballot initiative. It
      is revolutionary. It is out of the box.”

      Most intriguing line:

      “You can’t have everything you want. You can’t have a
      burp and run for the doctor.”
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