What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below.
No image

Health Care Becomes Key Political Issue for Candidates

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., revealed his plan to revamp the country's health care system Tuesday, becoming the latest presidential candidate to propose changes. A health policy professor and the NewsHour's health correspondent Susan Dentzer outline the issues.

Read the Full Transcript

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Today, it was Barack Obama who stood up on the campaign trail in Iowa to lay out his health care proposals. The Illinois senator followed Democratic rivals John Edwards and Hillary Clinton in laying out ideas to create universal health care coverage, particularly by making coverage available and affordable for 45 million uninsured Americans.

    Obama wants all Americans to be able to buy into a combination public-private health insurance system. Government subsidies would help cover those who couldn't afford the whole tab, and employers would be required to pitch in.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: If you're one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have a new plan after this plan becomes law. You will have health insurance that's available to you. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Polls show that health care is a top issue among potential voters, ranking second to the war in Iraq. And the three leading Democratic candidates have all focused on lowering health care costs as instrumental to providing universal care.

    Other key components of Obama's plan: create a new National Health Insurance Exchange to strengthen the private health insurance market; no one could be denied health coverage based on their underlying health conditions; require parents to make sure their children had health coverage, either public or private; and relieve businesses of the high cost of covering the chronically ill.

    Senator Clinton's work on the issue goes back to the failed attempts early in her husband's administration to come up with a plan for universal coverage.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: I have tangled with this issue before, and I've got the scars to show for it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Last week, nearly 15 years later, she began to roll out her own plan in phases.

  • SEN. HILLARY CLINTON:

    Our health care system is plagued with under-use, overuse, and misuse. It is, simply put, broken. As president, I will make it my mission to fix it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In the first phase of her plan, Clinton would: create a computerized health information system to help reduce medical errors; end insurance discrimination against people with preexisting health conditions; and create a new Best Practices Institute to help determine which drugs and medical intervention are cost effective.

    Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards was the first to make a major pronouncement on health care.

    FORMER SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), Presidential Candidate: There are many millions more who are worried about losing their health care or worried about the cost of it. So I think there's a huge groundswell for Americans to change the health care system.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Edwards would require all Americans to have health insurance. To help them obtain coverage, Edwards would: require employers to insure workers or assist in paying for coverage; issue tax credits or subsidies to make insurance affordable; make insurance available through new regional health markets.

    Most of the other Democratic candidates also support universal health coverage but have yet to supply the details.

    Among the Republican presidential candidates, health care has not yet become a major issue. Former Governor Mitt Romney did help create a universal coverage plan for Massachusetts but has spoken little about it since announcing his candidacy.

The Latest