Iraq, health care are major issues in 08 election: VOA

Voices of America writer Jim Malone reported Friday that experts believe the war in Iraq and health care will likely dominate the debates as the presidential campaign continues.

“Whenever there is a war that becomes the issue for a generation,” said one expert Malone quoted.

Iraq, but also typical Democratic concerns such as health care, for example, are on the list,” said another. “But given that candidates wind up having more or less similar positions on a host of issues, I think it does come down to factors such as personality and perceived electability.”

Is this a Democratic race?

According to experts in Malone’s article, Americans generally tend to like change after one party has been in control for eight years – and it doesn’t hurt the blue party that many Democratic issues, such as health care, seem to be at the top of the voter priority list.

Still, according to one expert Malone interviewed, in order to win the election, a Democratic candidate will have to show a strong record on foreign policy, considering that we may or may not be in the shadows of a recession because of the war in Iraq. For now, though, they seem to be ahead.

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Biden speaks at Kaiser forum, too

Along with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) spoke Thursday at the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Presidential Candidate Forums for health care.

Sponsored by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals, the forum gave both candidates the chance to explain their approaches to health-care reform. (See what Kucinich had to say.)

Get coverage of the event

Biden’s plan

Biden took the opportunity Thursday to expound on his health care plan, which he only recently unveiled. Among the things he said he plans to do in the first six months as president:

  1. Insure all children
  2. Get care for catastrophic illness care under control, so that people don’t become destitute or bankrupt from dealing with an unforseen illness

More details of Biden’s plan (pdf):

  • He said the nation could save something like $180 billion if we institute electronic record-keeping and get rid of time-wasting, confusing paperwork
  • He would allow everyone to buy into the federal-employee insurance scheme on a sliding scale
  • Citizens aged 55 and older would be able to buy into Medicare
  • His plan has no mandates; he said small businesses could be cajoled into providing insurance by the stipulation that anything over $50,000 in a claim would be covered by the federal government

Up Next

On Wed., Oct. 31, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will speak for the same forum at 11:30 a.m. EST.

Kucinich talks health care for online forum

Subsequent to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) speaking appearance at the Kaiser Family Foundation Presidential Candidate Forums, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) took the opportunity on Thursday to reveal his health care plan.

The event was also sponsored by Familes USA and the Federation of American Hospitals.

Coverage of the event

What he said

  • Under the Kucinich plan, the government is the single payor
  • The plan will be financed by in part by payroll taxes, as well as by ending the war in Iraq and cutting spending on “the Pentagon”
  • Patients would be able to choose their own doctors
  • The system would be simplified through bypassing insurance companies; patients would simply sign a form and see their doctor

Next to speak

On Wed., Oct. 31, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will speak for the same forum at 11:30 a.m. EST.

Biden reveals his cure for health care

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) announced on Tuesday his plans for making health care more available and affordable to Americans, the Associated Press reported.

Unlike most of his fellow Democratic cadidates, Biden did not call for universal health- care coverage; rather, he said that people who do not currently have insurance will get it if they have more options from which to choose.

“I don’t think you are going to need to mandate,” he said. “When affordable health care is available, people will buy it.”

Details of the Biden plan

  • To provide health coverage for uninsured children, Biden proposes expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, to at least 300 percent of the poverty level — or about $61,950 for a family of four, and raising the coverage age to at least 21
  • Families that do not meet this poverty line will still be able to purchase coverage under his plan
  •  Biden wants to allow a buy-in to a health-care program similar to that of federal employees, which would be paid on a sliding scale according to patients’ income
  • To encourage “wellness,” Biden’s detailed plan (pdf) calls for the elimination of all co-pays for routine physicals and check-ups

Financing

Biden said his plan will cost between $80 billion and $110 billion per year to put into action. It would be paid for by rolling back tax cuts for the top 1 percent, eliminating tax breaks on capital gains and dividends and ending tax loopholes for hedge-fund managers and private equity partners, his campaign told the AP.

GOP candidates duke it out

In a campaign debate on Sunday, the Republican presidential candidates discussed their health care plans, Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and conservative values, according to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

The candidates’ statements were more personal than in the past, with the majority of the talk being about who is the most conservative candidate. The one item of agreement seemed to be an attack on Clinton and her health-care plan.

Health Care Plans

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said health care is one of the defining issues of the debate, and that the key to his plan is to make it affordable and available to all Americans.
  • Rudy Giuliani said that if America had 50 or 60 million individuals buying private insurance, as opposed to the 17 million who now do so, it would cut health care costs in half.
  • Mike Huckabee said, “We don’t have a health care plan. We have a health care maze.”

Coverage of the debate

The debate was held in Orlando, Fla. and sponsored by Fox News. Fox anchor Chris Wallace acted as moderator.

WSJ: Candidates’ health plans not detailed enough

In an article appearing in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, writer Laurie McGinley stated that the 2008 presidential candidates’ plans are not detailed enough for voters to be able to tell what kind of effect the plans would have on their finances or their actual health care.

“The challenge: None of the plans is detailed enough to show exactly how consumers’ wallets — or quality of care — would be affected,” McGinley wrote. “The opportunity: Because the difference between the two parties is stark, voters have a clear choice of approach.”

The article goes on to discuss the various candidates’ health care plans, as well as the major difference between the Democrats and the Republicans: universal health care.

Conclusion?

All of the candidates seem to want to give Americans better-quality, more affordable health care. The only difference is in their methods, with the Democrats generally favoring a single-payor system (or at least an option), and the Republicans are generally looking to solve the problem of affordability through various tax schemes. McGinley’s article is a well informed, easy-to-understand general primer on presidential health-care plans.

Clinton talks health care in online forum

The up-and-coming trend for 2008 presidential hopefuls of participating in online-only campaign forums, such as the YouTube.com debates, continued Thursday with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addressing health care in one of a series of online health-care forums presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Care 2008 Presidential Candidate Forums.

Three ways to get coverage of the event

  1. View the video
  2. Listen to the podcast
  3. Read the transcript (pdf)

What Clinton said

  • Every American is entitled to quality health care
  • Contrary to popular belief, Clinton will not require a single-payor program; if you like the private insurance you currently have, and the doctors you currently consult, you are free to continue your current health-care plan
  • If you don’t like your current health care, under Clinton’s plan, you will be able to choose from the same variety of plans as members of Congress and other federal employees
  • You will also have access to a public health-care plan, such as Medicare, that will provide stable, competitive alternative to private insurance

Guarantees under Clinton’s program

  1. You will never be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or risk factors
  2. Your coverage will be guaranteed
  3. Your health care will be affordable

Financing

One of the biggest criticisms of Democrats’ plans, like Clinton’s universal health-care proposal, is how it will be financed. The easiest answer is that most Democratic candidates are opposed to the war in Iraq, and most are opposed to the exorbitant expenditures required by the war. But Clinton mentioned other financing options during her hourlong speech at Thursday’s forum:

  • “Right now insurance companies spend $50 billion a year trying to figure out how not to cover people,” she said. “Well, I’m going to save them a fortune and a whole lot of time, because here’s the new policy: no more discrimination, period.”
  • The government will provide tax credits to individuals and families who do have insurance
  • Employers will have to take a part in providing health coverage to workers, but small businesses will not be required to provide health insurance (instead they will receive tax credits to ensure that they do so)
  • Clinton says the government will have to return to a balanced budget that will allow for a surplus of government funds to provide resources to tackle health care issues
  • The government will have to stop taking money from the Social Security trust fund to pay for the war in Iraq
  • Electronic medical records will help eliminate time wasted, and simplify accessing those records
  • We need to do a better job of chronic condition management

Next Up

On Thursday, Oct. 25, two more candidates will take the stage on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s health-care forum. They are:

The online audience

One of the great advantages of candidates participating in online forums is that more Americans are able to access the candidates’ plans. Think of it as the Web 2.0 version of presidential campaigns. Another advantage is that in addition to hearing answers to the questions asked by journalists, private citizens are able to pose questions to the candidates through the Web sites sponsoring the events. This means that candidates are, in effect, more able to connect with private individuals, and thus will be able to understand and cater to all Americans’ needs and wants – rather than simply whatever polls tell the candidates Americans want.