Presidential Candidates Scramble Around Healthcare

| Jul 26, 2007

It's still awhile even until the primaries, but already candidates of both parties are jostling to get their healthcare plans out there. In recent polls, healthcare was rated as the top issue on the domestic scene. And no wonder: premiums for family coverage have risen by 87 percent since 2000, according to Kaiser.

The number of uninsured Americans has risen to close to 45 million, and the diabetes crisis, of course, is expanding exponentially.

The Republicans tend to propose tax incentives that would allow consumers to buy their own insurance from private insurers, and they warn about the potential horrors of government-controlled health insurance. Some Democrats do envision more government involvement, possibly with subsidized coverage for people who can't afford their own insurance.

On the other hand, everybody is being careful to avoid pitting the haves against the have nots. So members of both parties are trying to show how their plan will hold down costs for the people who are already paying for insurance before trotting out anything specific about the vast uninsured problem.

It's a far cry from ten years ago when the Clintons' healthcare initiative collapsed and sent everybody running from the issue. Now everybody is going in the opposite direction. Senator Barack Obama has proposed a plan to cover many, but not all, of America's uninsured, and Senator Hilary Clinton, burned once, is now viewed by many as too cautious on the issue.

The Republicans vow that they're just as committed to fixing the healthcare system as Democrats, but not by using what they call the Democrats' tilt toward government-mandated plans. Instead, they want to use free-market solutions; for instance, Mr. Giuliani wants to give people a tax deduction if they buy their own insurance. Of course, if you make so little that you don't pay taxes, that might not help you all that much.

For a detailed discussion of the whole morass, see the New York Review of Books article at

Source: The New York Times

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