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Voting for Health: The 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Health Care

Filed Under: Announcements & News at 8:47 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
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If you’ve stepped outside, turned on the TV or picked up a paper just once this year, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard the platform of at least one or two of our many presidential hopefuls. All of them have stated their opinions on everything from the war to the economy to the emotional state of their opponents, over and over again. But as repetitive and wordy (and sometimes downright catty) as they may be, it is important that we know where the candidates stand on each topic, including health. So listed below are our nation’s six frontrunners and their ideas on how health in this country can be better handled:

• John McCain McCain wants to make health care more available by eliminating the state restrictions and allowing insurers to operate nationally. This will create competition and drive the prices down as corporations fight for consumers. Transparency, allowing individuals to comparison shop for insurance, will also lower prices, which will coincide with the drop he hopes to generate in generic-drug and Medicare prices.

McCain would further the nation’s health by offering the citizens more diverse and various options, and supporting continued research, expanded education and more health initiatives that revolve around the most troublesome of our country’s conditions. McCain does not believe that the government should have to pay for medical errors or mismanagement, meaning he would find ways to limit if not eliminate medical malpractice suits.

• Hilary Clinton – Clinton’s goal is required universal health care, a feat that would be made possible with federal and free-market solutions. Insurance would remain employer-based, but the government’s role would increase to expand Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and provide tax credits to small businesses and low/middle-income families or individuals. The overall program would be akin to the one currently available to federal employees.

To reduce the cost of health care, Clinton has developed a seven step plan in which a national preventive initiative is created, technology is used to its fullest extent for research, advancements and electronic recording of health records, chronic care becomes a coordinated act and insurance discrimination is eliminated. She would rely on the federal government to negotiate lower prices for Medicare prescriptions and support the importation of drugs from nations with safety regulations similar to the United States’.

• Mike Huckabee – Huckabee wants to shift the nation from an employer-based system to a consumer-based one, relying on tax deductions and credits to help pay for care. He believes that a free-market system would drive down the prices for treatment and medication. Huckabee would eliminate the Medicare taxes by instituting a tax on all items aside from necessities.

Although Huckabee does not believe in universal health care, he does want to make retaining health care more plausible by making it portable from job to job.

• Barack Obama – Obama, as Clinton does, advocates universal, employer-based health care. However, his plan requires that all children not all individuals be insured. For those who do not have access to insurance via work or do not qualify for Medicaid, Obama has envisioned a public program that would provide them access to quality care.

Obama would reduce the cost of health care by increasing the federal government’s role in funding it. Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program would expand, and tax credits would be given out as deemed appropriate. Generic drugs would also be made more available more quickly to the general public, giving them more treatment options. Obama’s overall goals revolve around eliminating disparities, providing care for everyone and resolving the conflicts between need and affordability.

Mitt Romney – Romney wants to create universal coverage through market reforms rather than new programs or taxes, and through the state governments rather than the federal. He believes that if everyone has health insurance as well as total awareness of varying prices, the costs of care and medication will naturally reduce.

To put his plan into action, Romney would use the federal government to offer the states incentives and give them the resources needed to insure and treat all residents.

• Ron Paul – Paul’s primary message is that the federal government should play an extremely limited role in the health and care of the American people. With Paul as president, individuals would be responsible for payments, which would create an incentive for lower prices. A tax credit equaling 100 percent of insurance expenses would also be given to ease costs.

Paul would reduce the FDA’s current role in regulating medications and supplements, by giving the public full access to all research and subsequent findings. Supplements would no longer be held back by the FDA and would thus, in theory, be more available to Americans who were seeking cheaper, more natural options for preventing and treating disease. It would, in Paul’s words, give individuals genuine freedom.

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