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Friday, February 2nd 2007

Health Care As An Issue

Healthcare is shaping up as a major domestic issue for the 2008 election.

Whether Washington will do more than talk about the problem, however, remains to be seen. Money is tight, and some experts say major shifts in federal policy are unlikely until after the 2008 presidential election, in which health care is expected to be a major focus.

“On this issue, the polls show that Democrats, Republicans and independents want progress,” [Karen] Ignagni said. “The most expensive course is to do nothing.”

Indeed. If the opponents of further government involvement in funding health care don’t come to the table with some concessions on this point, then we will end up with a single payer system (at least functionally).

“Health care has been poked and prodded for years,” said [Sen. Ron] Wyden, who wants to replace employer coverage with a centrally financed system of private insurance for all Americans. “I believe it is time for diagnosis and treatment.”

While the Washington Post article linked to above speaks to the current workings, clearly the crowd of candidates for 2008 are speaking heavily on health care. Including those who have already been burned by it before.

Hilary has been very outspoken. In December,

[Sen. Clinton] said that she “learned a lot about how we have to do this,” adding that proposals for universal health coverage require “everybody believing that the system over the long run will function better for them and not for somebody else.” Rodham Clinton said, “I think we can do that now.” In addition, when asked about concerns over the cost of proposals for universal health coverage, Rodham Clinton said, “If we had been governed sensibly the last six years, with the balanced budget and the surplus which this administration inherited, we would have been a long way down the road to deal with Social Security and Medicare and all of the financial challenges they pose”

In January,

In her first public appearance since announcing her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she will once again embrace health care as a principal cause.

“I will be introducing legislation to make quality, affordable health care available to every child in America,” she told a roomful of reporters at a public health center in New York City as a girl clutched her hand.

Her current support for CHIP expansion…

The New York senator and former first lady said she and Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, would introduce legislation “in the coming weeks” to renew and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program so that families earning nearly five times the federal poverty level would be eligible to participate in it.

…runs contrary to the President’s current plan. I guess that is more of a side note.

Obviously Obama, Senator Edwards, and Mitt Romney have strong records and opinions on health care as well. We’ll see how this pans out. It is my personal opinion that these are more than just campaign stumps. Clearly public perception and opinion are driving this “discussion” as these candidates are basically already campaigning. But, I believe, we’ve reached a point, that despite the powerful opposition forces, the next president will have to lay out a sweeping healthcare reform agenda once they’re in office.

This isn’t just talk.

No one can get all they want. If physician groups don’t want to see massive reimbursement cuts then they’ll have to be at the table with compromises and solutions ready.