Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss Health Care, Other Issues at Univision Debate

Seven Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday during a debate that aired on Univision discussed health care and other issues, USA Today reports. During the debate, held on the campus of the University of Miami, Univision news anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas asked questions in Spanish, and the candidates received translations in English (Wolf/Marrero, USA Today, 9/10).

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) said that he has proposed a "comprehensive plan for universal health care so that all will have medical insurance."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said his universal health insurance proposal would take one year to pass and two to three to implement. In addition, he said that "we need to have everyone accessible to the best (inaudible) plan that everyone here has," reduce the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 55, provide veterans with a "health card for all" and focus on preventive medicine.

Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) said that he supports "medical care for those who are undocumented" immigrants and universal health insurance.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) said that "we're going to make it possible for all to have health care; not only 47 million who are uninsured, but those millions of people who are insured who don't ... receive treatment" because of the cost.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska) proposed a voucher system, under which U.S. residents "get a chance to choose from five insurance plans" that compete for members.

Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) said that federal lawmakers can no longer "negotiate with the drug companies and insurance companies, and their lobbyists" and must "face these people and change the system."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) promoted a bill (HR 676) he has proposed that would establish a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system called Medicare for All. He added that, "as long as we're stuck with this system where insurance companies make $600 billion a year (inaudible), spending that ought to go directly to health, we're not going to get the care we need" (Debate transcript, CQ Transcriptions, 9/9).

Additional Coverage
Summaries of additional coverage related to the presidential election appear below.

  • Clinton: Clinton on Friday at an AARP conference in Boston discussed health care and other issues, the Boston Herald reports. During the conference, Clinton promised to address problems with the U.S. health care system. In addition, she said, "We need to end the war on science going on in America" (Wedge, Boston Herald, 9/8).

  • Edwards: Edwards on Saturday at an event sponsored by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America criticized Clinton for her ties to health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, the AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Edwards said, "For more than 20 years, Democrats have talked about universal health care. In 1993, Democrats controlled both chambers in Congress," and voters had elected "a president who actually had the courage to propose a plan for universal health care." However, "It was completely killed" by lobbyists for health insurers and pharmaceutical companies (Fournier, AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9/8).

  • Huckabee: Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Saturday during several campaign events in Georgia advocated increased use of preventive medicine to help reduce health care costs, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Huckabee said, "We have a disease-focused culture now. An insurance company will pay for $30,000 foot amputation if you're a diabetic, but it won't pay for a $150 visit to a podiatrist to prevent the situation in the first place" (Galloway, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/9).

  • Obama: Obama on Friday at a campaign event in San Francisco said, "There are those who tout their experience working in the system in Washington. ... The problem is, the system in Washington isn't working for us." He added, "We've been talking about the health care crisis in this country for decades, and yet, through Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to act" (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8).

  • Thompson: Presidential candidate and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) on Friday during the first town hall meeting of his campaign called for a "divorce (from) the complete dependency so many have on their employment" for health insurance, MSNBC.com's "First Read" reports. At the meeting, held in Sioux City, Iowa, Thompson expressed support for a market-based health care system that he said would provide more choices for U.S residents and use competition to reduce costs. Thompson also "dismissed the idea of universal health care," according to "First Read" (Appelbaum, "First Read," MSNBC.com, 9/7).

Broadcast Coverage
American Public Media's "Marketplace Money" on Friday included a discussion with Chris Farrell, "Marketplace" economics editor, about the health insurance proposals of the presidential candidates (Vigeland, "Marketplace Money," American Public Media, 9/7). Audio of the segment is available online.

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