Health care has proven to be a crucial issue for the U.S. Presidential election of 2008. Everyone agrees that the system of health care is flawed, but there are varied opinions on the best way to fix the flaws. What are the candidates’ positions on the future of public health and other areas of health care?
In general, the nominees for the Republican presidential candidate favor private, free market solutions to the health care crisis, rather than government involvement.
Congressman Ron Paul, himself a physician who did not accept Medicare or Medicaid when he was practicing, has not proposed a government health care plan because he is against the government’s involvement in any aspect of health care. He proposes complete privatization to encourage competition for consumers’ health care dollars. All medical expenses would be tax deductible. Also, he suggests that government restrictions of illegal drugs should be reduced.
Governor Mike Huckabee is in favor of the private sector controlling health care reforms, and state rather than federal involvement where government is needed. He emphasizes increased provisions for preventive care, which would reduce the need for costly medical procedures. He plans to utilize electronic record keeping, increase health insurance portability, and give tax credits and/or deductions for insurance premiums. In addition, he intends to change the health care system so that it is based on consumers rather than employers.
Senator John McCain’s statements on health care with regard to the federal government have featured improved health care for veterans. However, he also puts forward a comprehensive plan for overall health care reform that includes national quality standards, free market competition between providers, support for innovative delivery systems such as clinics in retail stores, and tort reform to control medical lawsuits and associated malpractice costs.
Both Democratic candidates strongly support universal health care coverage provided by the federal government.
Senator Barack Obama would provide universal coverage by 2012. His health care plan would strengthen public health infrastructure, encourage preventive care, modernize the health care system, and provide comprehensive health coverage for every American. He intends to retain Medicare for seniors and disabled individuals, as well as Medicaid programs and private health insurance presently provided by employers. However, for those who do not qualify for those funding sources, he would establish a new public insurance plan. All employers would be required to either provide private insurance for their employees or contribute to the public plan on their employees’ behalf.
Senator Hillary Clinton would establish universal coverage by 2016. Her plan includes tax credits for insurance premiums, more choices for consumers, removal of restrictions based on pre-existing conditions, and portability of health care when the consumer stops working or changes jobs. She would establish a new program similar to Medicare but open to everyone. Consumers would also be able to access the same plans available to Members of Congress. Everyone would be required to have insurance of some type.