The Health Care Questions I Still Have

Bill Scher

After watching Saturday’s presidential candidate forum on health care, and judging the candidates using Roger Hickey’s five health care questions, I’m left with key questions for each Oval Office aspirant.

To former Sen. John Edwards: your plan sets up competition between private insurers and a new “Medicare-style” government plans for everyone under 65. You argue that with competition, we will see if Americans want public or private plans. But what will you do to ensure the plans compete on a level playing field?

To Sen. Hillary Clinton: You accurately identified the problem with private insurers, how they make a profit by either trying to “avoid insuring you” or “try[ing] to avoid paying for the health care you receive.” But the 1993 health care plan you supported solely relied on private insurers to deliver health care coverage. Will you commit to offering some sort of public plan so we can reduce our reliance on private insurers?

To Sen. Barack Obama: The principles you laid out appear to track the plan that John Edwards has offered. In fact, you called Edwards’ plan “very credible.” What can you propose that would improve upon the Edwards plan?

To Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Chris Dodd: Are you actually pledging to achieve universal coverage, or are you only offering universal “access” to coverage, which will allow some to fall through the cracks?

To Rep. Dennis Kucinich: You make a compelling case for an immediate move to a single-payer system, but how do you convince those Americans who are content with their coverage that such a system won’t take away what they have?

To Sen. Joe Biden: The Nevada Caucus 2008 blog checks your past statements and concludes you chose not the attend the forum because you’re not really for universal coverage. Is that true?

To the Republican candidates, who all skipped the forum: Do you really think you can win the White House if you won’t take public questions on what you’re going to do about our health care crisis?

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