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Why Health Care No Longer Makes Politicians Leery

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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-30-07 10:53 PM
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Why Health Care No Longer Makes Politicians Leery
The Wall Street Journal

Why Health Care No Longer Makes Politicians Leery
Shift in Public Attitudes Since '94 Clinton Fiasco Emboldens Candidates
By JACKIE CALMES
May 30, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- During the 13 years since President Bill Clinton lost his bid to remake the U.S. health-care system, and helped cost his party control of Congress in the bargain, politicians have shied from changing it more than one step at a time even as costs and the ranks of uninsured have ballooned. Now, the growing list of Democratic presidential candidates calling for universal, cheaper coverage -- Illinois Sen. Barack Obama yesterday became the latest -- suggests the days of health-care incrementalism are over. Nor are these Democrats alone in embracing the once-toxic political cause of universal care: The best-known state models have been championed by Republican governors, including Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who is now running for president.

This shift reflects rising and inflation-topping out-of-pocket costs for health care and insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles. Also, the number of uninsured has spiked to about 45 million, from 37 million when Mr. Clinton was president. Business leaders increasingly are seeking a government-imposed solution, saying employee health costs put them at a disadvantage with foreign competitors. Those forces, in turn, have combined to embolden politicians in both parties to once again propose universal health care that inevitably would mean a big role for government -- and possibly upend the powerful insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Mr. Obama's speech unveiling his initiative in Iowa, the state with the first nominating contest, comes a week after Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York proposed health-cost savings as an integral part of a later plan specifically aimed at covering uninsured Americans. The third candidate in Democrats' top tier of White House contenders, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, beat both to the punch with a detailed universal-coverage plan in early February.

In Congress, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Bob Bennett of Utah have drafted a bill to overhaul the nation's health system. It isn't expected to get off the ground during the current Congress and the remainder of George Bush's presidency, though, given the president's belief in market forces and opposition to government regulation. Moreover, he and the Democrat-led Congress are locked in battle over Iraq. The public likewise is preoccupied with war, polls show, but health care has re-emerged as voters' top domestic concern.

(snip)

Republican candidates nonetheless will likely try to blast Democrats for using universal care to boost the size of government and to raise taxes. But they have yet to engage: The Web site of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani doesn't list health care among his top 10 issues. Big employers, while eager for help with the growing burden of employee health costs, are reserving judgment on early proposals. The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives that recently joined with the seniors organization AARP and the service-employees union to press for a bipartisan solution, issued a statement welcoming Mr. Obama's effort "to focus the nation's attention on this critical issue." Despite the renewed interest in taking on health care, though, no one is talking about an overhaul as ambitious as the 1993-94 Clinton plan -- not even its architect, Mr. Clinton's wife.

(snip)

URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118043982572317027.html (subscription)

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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-30-07 11:06 PM
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1. The health care industry has joined the bandwagon.
They know that they will have to cultivate their candidates or be left behind, so they are developing an alternative that includes rather than excludes them. I listened to Obama's excellent speech today until he got to the end. The only way we will get decent health care in this country is to eliminate the for profit parasites. Obama doesn't. Of course if you look at where he is getting his campaign contributions it makes sense. Unlesss we back single payer universal health care, we won't get anything meaningful and it will drain our treasury in the long run.
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Phredicles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 12:07 AM
Response to Original message
2. Yeah, but it's disappointing that all of the "big Three" candidates are
supporting Rube Goldberg contraptions that make sure the insurance business keeps its cut rather than advocating a simpler, more efficient single-payer system.

Last I checked, there was no constitutional right to obscene profits.
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 12:19 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. The problem is that most voters who are covered by their employers
like what they have.

Even on DU, on occasions there are polls and most like their employer- provided insurance. And many are apprehensive about the Canadian or the British systems. I've heard that the French and the German are better but really do not know many details.

I really think that if employers were out of the pictures and all of us would have to provide our own, that this will generate a real grass roots momentum to change the system.
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