|PART IV: HEALTH CARE|
September 4, 2003
In the fourth part of the debate, the Democratic candidates debated how best to help the 41 million Americans without health insurance.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS: (Speaking in Spanish)
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: The way that you get universal coverage is that
you have a single-payer system.
The most important part of this is that the physician or the provider and patient relationship has to be central to the health care system. Because if you do that, then you will have a dynamic in favor of quality of care and taking care of patients and people's illnesses--or wellness as well, frankly, because prevention is a big part of this. But you will have a dynamic in favor of quality that the current profit-driven system does not have.
We are wasting an awful lot of money on profit on the one hand and
disconnects between the different public system on the one hand, private
system on the other. We're wasting an awful lot of money that could
be better put to provide us with a rationalized system, a single-payer
system of health care for everybody.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Senator Edwards? The Bush administration just implemented new regulations for emergency rooms to limit the amount of services that they provide for people who go there. Now many Hispanics depend, or many minorities, and poor members of our society depend on emergency rooms as their only sources for medical care. What do you do?
JOHN EDWARDS: Well, all the candidates on this stage have a health-care
plan. There's only one candidate in the election in 2004 who has no
health-care plan, and that's George W. Bush.
And the last thing I'll just mention is the plight of Hispanic families.
My plan will cover 3 million Hispanic children. In addition to that,
I'd double the investment in public health facilities, the safety net
that takes all comers, that makes sure that all kids and all families
have a place to go to get the health care they need. And then, finally,
to deal with the language disparities that Hispanic families face every
day, we should set up a national translation center, open 7 days a week,
24 hours a day, so that we don't have children of Hispanic adults translating
to doctors about the problems that their parents are facing.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Thank you, Senator. Ray?
RAY SUAREZ: Governor Dean, how would you get more of the 41 million uninsured covered? And would you have to repeal all or part of the Bush tax cuts to do it?
HOWARD DEAN: (Speaking in Spanish).
Here's what we're going to do. We are going to repeal the Bush tax
cuts. You can't pay for health insurance if you have those tax cuts,
including the tax cuts for middle-class people. Most middle-class people
never got a tax cut from George Bush, and I'm sure they'd rather have
health insurance for everybody than the $100 they got from George Bush's
RAY SUAREZ: Congressman Kucinich? How do you get more of the uninsured covered, and do you have to repeal the Bush tax cuts to do it?
DENNIS KUCINICH: (Speaking in Spanish)
Congress right now has in front of it a plan that would cover all medically
necessary health services, all individuals. Individuals would not have
to pay premiums, deductibles or co-pays. But what it would do is it
would take the profit out of health care. And with the exception of
Ms. Moseley Braun, all the others here will retain the role of private
insurers. And we have to understand that the insurers--the insurance
companies and the pharmaceuticals right now, they own us. We need to
take our health care system back.
RAY SUAREZ: Senator Lieberman, how would you cover more of the uninsured? And would the Bush tax cuts have to go in order to do it?
JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: You bet parts of the Bush tax cuts would have to go, and they ought to go. Leadership is about priorities and priorities are about values. You know, this president loves to talk about values, faith-based values, but is it really good faith-based values? Remember what the Bible says about don't harden your heart to the poor, open your hand to them? Is it really good faith-based values to give tax cuts of tens of thousands of dollars to millionaires in America and have 9 million children without health care in this richest of all countries in the world? The answer is, of course not. So we've got to take back some of those high-income tax cuts.
But I disagree with Governor Dean and others who would adopt so large a program that it would force an increase in middle-class taxes. That's not fair. The middle class is stressed today. They've got it up to here. And they've got more than $100, let's be honest about it. A lot of them got thousands of dollars. They got the end of the marital tax penalty, child care tax credits and so on. I want to protect those, and we can, with a systematic step-by-step proposal.
This is an outrage that particularly hits the Hispanic community--3 million Hispanic children uncovered. I want to create "Medikids." I think it's the best plan that's been offered. Every baby born in America will leave the hospital not just with a birth certificate but with a Medikids card that will guarantee them health insurance up until the age of 25. You won't have to go down to the welfare office to sign up. You won't be mandated if you don't want to buy plans to cover health insurance. We can do this. And as president, I'm going to bring the right priorities and values to the Oval Office. And I will make every American currently uninsured eligible for a high-quality, affordable health insurance.
RAY SUAREZ: A quick response from Ambassador Braun.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: I want to take issue. A single-payer system will
not raise taxes on the middle class. And indeed, the plan I've proposed
will free up middle-class incomes because it'll take some of the pressure
off of the payroll tax. We can fund this within current spending without
raising taxes. And I think it's very important that people understand
this is not new tax burden on anybody. This is universal health care
in a way that makes sense.