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Meet the candidates

Posted Sep 14 2008 1:33pm

We at WELLalarm(TM) are keenly interested in the candidates’ platforms on health care reform. We’ve all heard the one-liners repeated by the various campaigns: “universal health coverage,” “restore control to the patients themselves,” and “your plan would force everyone to purchase health insurance!” But what lies beneath these statements, and what are the real differences between the candidates’ positions?

For Republican John McCain, the solutions to the health care crisis look very different from those of Democrat Barak Obama. According to Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, “it is the Republicans who envision a more fundamental transformation of the health insurance system.”

Here are the broader goals of each party's health care platform in a nutshell:

DEMOCRATSREPUBLICANS
Primary goal of health reformProvide nearly-universal health coverageControl costs
Purpose of health coverageProvide front-end protection, with an emphasis on preventative careProvide catastrophic protection on the back end
Regulation of insurance industryIncreased regulationReduced regulation
How to achieve goalsCreate a program that would provide private and public options for health coverage to individuals; build on existing employment-based insurance systems and public programsEnact malpractice reforms and create a larger role for the private marketplace in health coverage, shifting tax breaks from employment-based insurers to individuals.

Regardless of who becomes our next president, it looks as if we can look forward to greater transparency from health providers and overall lower health care and drug costs – that is, if the winning candidate can enact his or her plan. While the candidates debate, we have to keep in mind the other players in health care reform: Congress, lobbyists, health-related corporations, and the economy. Still, change is in the air. We will be watching to see how the health care reform debate evolves.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s series on the 2008 election-related health reform debate, “Pulling it Together,” includes tracking polls and video clips. Information in this article is from “Separating the Forest from the Trees in Health Reform Debate” in the series.

Information for this article was also culled from Kaiser sister organization Health 08.org, which has published a side-by-side summary of the three leading candidates’ health care proposals.

You can read more about each individual candidate’s health reform platforms at the following links:

Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan summary and American Health Choice Plan

Barak Obama's healthcare platform and Obama's Healthcare FAQ

John McCain's healthcare platform

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