September 21, 2007
DEMS PILE ON THE HEALTH CARE
Hillary hits health hard
Among the Democratic presidential candidates trying to make a stir on health care during the 2008 campaign, Dennis Kucinich got there first, John Edwards got there last winter, and Hillary Clinton got there this week (although perhaps it's fair to say she started getting there a decade ago).
Last July, Kucinich gave a strong speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in favor of legislation he cosponsors that would establish a national single-payer health insurance system for all Americans.
Edwards came out for universal health care last February, and provided lots of details on costs (including an attack on costly long-term patents for lifesaving drugs for conditions like cancer and AIDS) in June.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama came out with his plan in late May. While Obama's "Plan for a Healthy America" aims to cover all Americans, its failure to include an individual mandate and light touch on drug and insurance companies led some to label it "Edwards Lite."
This week Democratic front-runner and health care veteran Hillary Clinton won wall-to-wall media coverage for "American Health Choices" health care proposal, which includes individual and employer mandates, comprehensive coverage, and an option for all Americans to join the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) and a clear public plan option modeled on Medicare (which could form the basis for a future single-payer public plan).
In a conference call for New York health activists, Clinton campaign health staffers couldn't say how deep and wide care options for people with serious and disabling conditions like HIV/AIDS would be. Housing Works Legislative Counsel Michael Kink asked the Clinton team if their plan would require benefit packages to meet clinical standards of care for HIV and other high-need conditions, but the answer was "we'll get back to you on that."
"Does Mrs. Clinton's plan seem very familiar to you?" Edwards said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Mrs. Clinton has — seven and a half months after John unveiled his health care plan — unveiled a health care plan that is in every material respect just like John's." Edwards calls Clinton's plan "John Edwards' health care plan as delivered by Hillary Clinton."
We'll have more on Republican health care plans in next week's Update — and lots of detail on universal health care and HIV/AIDS in next month's relaunch of AIDSVote.org.