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Hillary Clinton’s and Everyone Else’s Healthcare Plans

[CONTEST NOTE: Yesterday, we held a contest to select someone to receive a copy of Olive Riley's DVD, All About Olive. And the winner is - Darlene Costner. Darlene does not keep a blog, but she comments frequently and is a long-time member of the TGB community. Email me your snailmail address, Darlene, and I will send on the DVD - and congratulations for being number 15.]

category_bug_politics.gif A minor campaign shoe dropped this week when Senator Hillary Clinton, after months of dragging her heels behind most of the other presidential candidates, announced her proposed healthcare plan if she is elected president. (Don’t you love how all the candidates keep saying “when I’m elected” when they have not yet secured the nominations?)

Of the other seven major Democratic candidates, all but Mike Gravel had already issued their healthcare proposals, sketchy as they all are - including Senator Clinton’s. Among the Republicans, two – Rudy Giuliani and Duncan Hunter - either have not announced healthcare plans or do not have one.

As you read through these lists and weigh this critical issue in deciding whom to support, be sure to ask yourself this question: when was the last time an elected official kept a campaign promise? Remember the 2006 mid-term election...

Be that as it may, we have nothing to go on except their talking points and pandering, so we must do the best we can with what little they give us. The Democratic candidates have dutifully picked up the two think tank and media watchwords in regard to healthcare reform: “universal coverage” and “the system in broken.” With all this in mind, let’s take a look first at the Democratic candidate’s proposals starting with Senator Clinton:

[Where possible, all names link to the candidate’s healthcare issue webpage.]

Hillary Clinton

  • Requires all Americans to have health insurance (like auto insurance)

  • Choice of coverage among private, employer-provided, a new public plan and an expanded version of the federal employees plan

  • Tax subsidies for small businesses and individuals

  • Bans insurance companies from turning down people for health or pre-existing conditions

  • Would require no new federal bureaucracy (huh?)

  • Estimated cost: $110 billion per year

  • Would end tax cuts for people who earn more than $250,000 per year

Barack Obama

  • Combination of existing employer-based system and new government program

  • Limits on profits of biggest insurance providers

  • Would not renew President Bush’s tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 per year when they expire in 2010

  • Require employers to provide coverage or pay government a percentage of their payroll

  • Small business would be exempt

  • Require all children to be covered providing subsidies to parents who cannot afford it

  • Create heath insurance exchange as a regulated marketplace of competing private health plans

John Edwards

  • Require employers to provide health coverage or pay six percent of payroll for government to provide insurance

  • Invest in more preventive care

  • Create a federal health insurance agency that would eventually do away with private health insurance

  • Provide subsidies or tax credits for low-income families

  • Expand Medicare and the federal healthcare program for children

  • Create regional healthcare markets to drive down premiums

  • Would add $120 billion a year to cost of healthcare in U.S.

  • Eliminate tax cuts for families earning more than $200,000 per year

Dennis Kucinich

  • Universal, single-payer, not-for-profit healthcare system - essentially Medicare for everyone

  • Plan already exists in the Kucinich-Conyers bill – HR676

  • Covers all healthcare needs including prescription drugs, vision and long-term care

  • Quotes economist Paul Krugman as saying, "covering everyone under Medicare would actually be significantly cheaper than our current system."

Joe Biden

  • Promises to develop a comprehensive plan to insure all Americans within six months of taking office

  • Require insurers participating in federal programs to provide preventive care

  • Invest $1 billion per year to switch to electronic health records

  • Allow federal government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies for Medicare Part D

  • Expand Medicaid to cover low-income families and childless adults

  • Allow all families to buy into SCHIP with a sliding scale of payments

  • Establish federal reinsurance pool to reimburse employers and insurers for 75 percent of catastrophic coverage

Christopher Dodd

  • Promises that all Americans will have quality, affordable coverage during first term

  • Responsibility for coverage shared by employers, individuals, insurance companies and the government

  • According to their ability to pay, individuals and businesses will contribute to a Universal HealthMart based on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.

  • Premiums will be affordable based on leveraged negotiating power, spreading risk, reduced administrative costs, and incentives for technology and preventive care.

  • Coverage will be portable; insurance purchased in Universal HealthMart will follow individuals.

Bill Richardson

  • Americans will have personal responsibility to obtain healthcare coverage

  • Tax credits available to those who cannot afford coverage

  • Relief from high interest charges when medical debt is placed on credit cards

  • Streamline healthcare administration

  • Invest in prevention

  • Promote transparency on price and quality

  • Restructuring incentives for high-quality care

  • Improve patient safety

  • Reduce health disparities

  • No increas in taxes

Mike Gravel
According to his website, no healthcare plan.

The watchword of Republican candidates is “no socialized medicine”. Does that McCarthy Era word, "socialized,” really scare off anyone these days? Apparently the Republicans think so. Several Republicans echo the Democrats in declaring that our current healthcare system is broken, but their solution appears to be to leave everything as it is; the marketplace solves all problems. And we all know how well that is working right now. But that's just my opinion.

Governor Mitt Romney

  • Require everyone to purchase healthcare coverage as in his current Massachusetts plan

  • No federal coverage; leave it to individual states

  • Make healthcare a market-driven entity

Sam Brownback

  • Increase consumer choice, consumer control and competition

  • Allow consumers to choose from plans that are tailored to fit their family needs and values

  • Allow individual to purchase coverage across state lines

  • Give consumers control over their personal healthcare records

Rudy Giuliani
According to his campaign website, no healthcare plan.

Mike Huckabee

  • Move from employer-based system to consumer-based

  • Encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs and improve the free market for health care services

  • Adopt electronic record-keeping

  • Reform medical liability

  • Make health coverage portable from one job to another

  • Expand health savings accounts

  • Make healthcare premiums for individuals deductible on income tax returns

  • Tax credits, not income tax deductions for low-income families

Duncan Hunter
According to his campaign website, no healthcare plan.

Based on these lists of particulars – if all else were equal which, of course, it is not – there is only one choice for me. What about you?

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, kenju writes about the disappearance of small town America in Downtown is Gone Forever.]


Summation: none of them have a clue. Nothing like a bunch of millionaires deciding what's best for us in the trenches.

There is only one that makes sense, but Dennis will never be president.

Agree about Kucinich.

I go for Edwards because of this point:

"Create a federal health insurance agency that would eventually do away with private health insurance."

His is a plan that has a way to get us from where we are now to where we want to be. I think it would be almost impossible to pass a single-payer system right now, not only because of the political power of the insurance lobby, but also because of the disruptions it would cause. (How many people would it put out of work at a single stroke?) But Edward's plan provides for a gradual transition, and I think that makes a lot of sense.

Well I have thrown away primary votes before. Obviously Kucinich is right about that as he is on the Iraq war. He can't win but he does seem like the only real choice to feel good about the vote afterward. I really dislike the programs that want to continue profiting the insurance corporations-- PACs should be renamed PMs-- payola machines. We know no Republican will help the people with health care-- good plan or not. And it doesn't look like most democrats would do much for the average joe either...

Before commenting on today's topic I have to shout a big WOW!! I actually won something. Thank you, Ronni, for the contest and I will be mailing you my snail mail address right away. I am looking forward to seeing Olive's DVD with great anticipation.

Of course we would all prefer a single payer medical system to be enacted immediately, but "lesliet" is right. Given the politics of today that would be shot down before it got off the ground. I agree that sliding into it gradually is the pragmatic approach. That is what the Edwards plan promises. I do not like the requirement for employers to provide insurance. This makes for more paperwork for them and an increased cost on their products.

Hillary's plan is too complicated and keeps the insurance industry alive. She is trying to have it both ways which may be good politics, but is bad policy.

As you know, I’m an American living in Sweden where we have universal health care or socialized medicine or whatever-the-heck you want to call it.

I’m no genius, but I feel 100% confident in saying that anything short of a completely new Kucinich-type plan WILL NEVER WORK!

Mike Gravel was actually one of the first to post his health care plan online. It's a health care voucher plan developed and supported by actual Ph.D's and M.D.'s.

Unfortunately they just redesigned the campaign site and hid the issues page, but here is a detailed summary of the plan:

By the way, this comment system sucks. Here's a shorter link that will fit:

It covers everyone. It cuts costs. It can get through Congress. Why Universal Health Care Vouchers is the next big idea.

I have to admit, I am letting people who know more about this than I do digest these health plans. What I evaluate in these things is whether I think the candidates will expend the energy, the "political capital," to win ANYTHING on the health front. From that perspective, I am most sanguine about Edwards and Clinton -- but not very confident that we'll get action from any of them.

As far as I can tell, unless we are rich, it is okay with the Republicans if we just go die.

Mitt Romney:
"Make healthcare a market-driven entity"

It already is and that is why we are in the mess we are in right now.

Universal coverage for Democrats. Nothing for Republicans.

C'mon, let them live by their party values and let's see how many people are still Republicans....

I find them all a bit divisive, frankly. What 'is' is not working, so throw it out. Market health insurance should be a luxury for those who have the moolah to pay for it. General health care should IMO be something that covers everybody, working or not, and should probably be funded from a shared risk policy that is based on the entire population. If working people can negotiate employer payment of the policy, that's a plus. Others might negotiate a percentually higher pay and pay for it themselves, but they should be required to have it and should get a bill every year based on their gross income.

Is Medicare working? Is it working well enough to become the new standard coverage? If not, junk that too. The US spends more per person for really poor coverage and not so great care -- unless you've the money to pay for what you need without battling an HMO or an insurance company.

Will six per cent cover it? Why does the government set 7% as the deductible base? Here in Italy it costs 7.5% of worldwide income. (Note that baldness cures covered here are NOT essential healthcare unless you are a nutcase.)

I think, from my dim memories of health care providers' complaints, that liability coverage for providers needs also to be a federal policy.

Why should I think anything will change..?.No matter what they promise the end result is sad, as they will probably never follow through once elected. In the end the pressure from the lobbyist will prevail..

Dorothy from grammology
call your grandmother

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