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Candidates’ Representatives Discuss Merits of Health Care Plans for N.M., Nation

Judy Woodruff digs deeper into the health care issue in New Mexico, speaking with the campaigns' state representatives to explain how their respective health plans will better deal with current needs.

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    So how do the presidential candidates say they can fix the health care problems in New Mexico and throughout the nation? For that, we turn to health care experts representing both campaigns.

    Here on behalf of Barack Obama is Michelle Lujan Grisham. She's former health secretary of New Mexico. And Dr. J.R. Damron, he is John McCain's state health care chair and a practicing radiologist in Santa Fe.

    Thank you both for being here.

    And let's start — we heard a pretty grim picture or saw a pretty grim picture painted there of the health care situation in this state. But let me begin with you, Dr. Damron. What about this real problem of access, people who not only don't have insurance coverage, don't have a way to get to a doctor or a nurse?

    DR. J.R. DAMRON, McCain campaign: Access is a huge problem. It's not just in New Mexico; it's a problem throughout the United States. I mean, we are in a real critical shortage for health care providers, whether they're nurses or whether they're physicians or nurse practitioners…


    And what would Senator McCain do about that, if president?

  • DR. J.R. DAMRON:

    Well, Senator McCain understands this. He understands that there is a health care shortage. He would put federal monies into this. He would try to help in whatever way possible to support the states, as well as a nation — we have enough health care providers for our population.


    And, Michelle Grisham, what would Senator Obama do?

    MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, Obama campaign: Fundamental differences. Senator Obama is going to invest in providers directly, which means we're going to do loan forgiveness, we're going to have incentives for practicing in rural areas, we're going to invest in prevention and public health models.

    We're going to have health information technology, which connect you to physicians and specialists. And you do this by recognizing that we're going to have a better model for guaranteeing access to insurance coverage for New Mexicans and all Americans.


    Cost? How do you pay for it?


    Oh, cost. Two things. We can save $50 billion to $65 billion by taking waste out of the current system. Twenty-five percent of all the money that you spend in premiums and direct care goes to overhead and administrative burdens.

    And the second way we do that is tax reform, so that folks paying — making the most money and paying the fewest taxes would now pay their fair share.