dem’s and health care : a youtube virtual debate

Democratic presidential candidates are seeking to connect with middle class families squeezed by rising medical costs with promises of universal health care. Health care consumes over 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and as costs continue to soar, businesses that provide coverage are requiring workers to share a greater burden of health care costs, if not eliminating it altogether.

At 45 million Americans, 16 percent of the nation is uninsured, and, of these, many are employed by small businesses unable to provide coverage. An important challenge in reforming the health care system is doing so in a fiscally sound manner that does not sacrifice quality, and in varying degrees, the Democratic hopefuls below offer plans to relieve the middle class from the burdens of rising cost of health care.

This blog will post and summarize candidates’ videos (particularly ones in which candidates are speaking extemporaneously) on healthcare and other issues as they become available. For a TV newscast that discusses Joe Biden’s healthcare approach, along with other issues, click here.

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Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich spars with George Stephanopolous who, at a Nevada forum, framed the universal health care debate as “raising more taxes on the American people.” Kucinich came out of his corner fighting, calling Stephanopolous’ equation “one of the biggest frauds that’s been put on the American people.”

If elected, the Ohio candidate would pay for universal health care by reducing health care administrative costs, resulting in a savings that according to Kucinich could finance universal care. The Congressman touts a plan that eliminates for-profit health insurance industry altogether, a line that received strong audience applause.

Dennis Kucinich (03:39)

Hillary Clinton
In front of a large Iowa gathering, Hillary Clinton re-affirmed her commitment to universal health care. Indirectly, the Senator underscored the point that while other candidates can speak eloquently about this or that aspect of policy, she led previous efforts; she has been in the trenches and understands that reforming what amounts to 15 percent of the national economy requires intellectual depth, political acumen, and a inner resolve laced with a dose of outward humility. Such is the meaning of Clinton’s comment, “I remember all too well back in 1993 and 1994. . . and I understand how hard it is.”

Hillary Clinton: (03:04)

In her talk, the New York Senator exhibits a Bill Clinton-like ability to articulate policy minutiae in clear easy-to-follow terms. According to Clinton, many insurers are “penny-wise” and “pound foolish” by refusing to cover preventive medicine for treatable diseases such as diabetes, which alone represents 20 percent of Medicaid spending. Instead, insurers provide coverage on an after-the-fact basis, which is more expensive than preventive care. Yet, insurers remain whole as they simply transfer cost increases to consumers in the form of high deductibles, co-pays and premiums, suggests Clinton.

John Edwards
John Edwards outlines key elements to his detailed plan in a talk to Iowa residents. If elected, he will require employers to cover workers, or pay into a fund. There will be government-operated “health care markets” throughout the country in which consumers will have choices in a system the overall costs of which are lowered as a result of better use of technology and lower administrative costs. These “health care markets” will compete with private insurers. He draws inspiration and a sense of urgency from the experience of his wife, who recently survived breast cancer. “What would it be like for the millions of women who’ve gone through what Elizabeth did . . what if you had no health care coverage?”

John Edwards (04:09)

Barak Obama
In a rally in Southern California, Illinois Senator Barak Obama takes a populist aspect in discussing the underlying causes to the crisis in health care, seeking to light a fire under the feet of his followers. Like Clinton, Obama speaks about diabetes and how the system favors more expensive after-the-fact procedures over less-expensive preventive solutions. “We know in terms of diabetics, if we got a case worker and paid him $150 to make sure they got [early] treatment, we wouldn’t have to spend that $30,000 on an amputation.”

Barak Obama (02:32)

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