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Election 2008: Health Care

Election 2008: Health Care

StarThis tip sheet has some of the most recent coverage and resources for covering health care in the election.

Based on what candidates reveal in debates, speeches and statements, we update this with information on where they stand on access to health care and other issues, including stem cell research, abortion and more. Click on the candidates' names below for more information and visit our links to news and issues and videos. Former candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Ron Paul submitted responses to the questions you, our members, posed regarding their positions on health care.

  John McCain
John McCain (R)
Barack Obama
Barack Obama (D)

Health care proposal highlights

McCain's health care plan focuses on containing spending by better treating chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. He thinks hospitals and doctors should be compensated based on performance, making Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements dependent on results.

Obama's health care plan would establish a public insurance program, available to Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid, SCHIP or insurance through their employers. It would create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans and businesses that want to purchase private health insurance directly and require all employers to contribute towards health coverage for their employees or towards the cost of the public plan. It would mandate that all children have health care coverage and expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs.

Statements on underinsured Americans

As our nation's health care costs continue to spiral out of control, it's no surprise that the number of underinsured – people who have health coverage that does not sufficiently protect them from high medical expenses – continues to rise.

Bringing costs under control is the only way to stop the erosion of affordable and quality health insurance for all Americans. This will require a fundamental shift from the current culture of our health care system. My plan does just that.

I believe American families, not Washington, should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over their care. We can improve quality and reduce costs by promoting competition throughout our health care system, better managing chronic conditions, harnessing the power of technology and promoting prevention that will keep millions from developing debilitating diseases.     

By rewarding high-quality care and improved outcomes we can create a quality-focused, accountable health care system that puts the patients back in charge.

Senator Obama believes that all Americans deserve health insurance that covers their important medical expenses.  It is unacceptable that 25 million Americans have coverage that nevertheless leaves them exposed to financial ruin when they get sick or injured.  Senator Obama understands that many people enroll in high-deductible health plans and limited benefit plans because they cannot afford the costs of comprehensive coverage. He will make health insurance affordable and accessible to all Americans, including the 25 million underinsured and the additional nearly 50 million who have no health insurance at all.  It is time for a real change that will provide health insurance Americans can believe in.

Senator Obama's proposed "Plan for a Healthy America" will enable all Americans – including workers, the self-employed and small businesses – to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress.

Senator Obama's proposal does this in two ways.  First, it works to lower the cost of medical care.  The plan stresses prevention and chronic care management, not just treatment when people are sick.  It also sets up health insurance exchanges which can reduce the administrative expense of health insurance and assure quality coverage in the private health plans and public plan that it offers.  And it proposes unprecedented investment in health information technology and other sources of knowledge so that we can know better what we do and pay smarter for the care that is provided.

Second, the Obama plan proposal will make health care affordable and accessible to everyone.  His plan will establish a National Health Insurance Exchange through which anyone can obtain coverage.  All health plans offered through the Exchange will include the comprehensive benefits that members of Congress and federal employees get through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The plan will cover all essential medical services, and will not turn people away just because they get sick.  Individuals and families will no longer fear that their health plan will leave them without sufficient coverage if they get sick or injured.

To make coverage affordable, the Obama plan will provide tax credits for all individuals and families who cannot afford health insurance on their own.  Those who need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to purchase a private health care plan or buy into a new public plan through the National Health Insurance Exchange. In addition, the Obama plan will reimburse health plans for a portion of the catastrophic medical costs they incur above a threshold if they guarantee such savings are used to reduce the cost of workers' premiums.  These costs drive many small employers and individuals to abandon comprehensive coverage, exposing themselves and their families to medical debt by opting instead for high-deductible health plans.

Through these means, Senator Obama will make comprehensive, portable insurance coverage affordable for all Americans and will work to end the problem of underinsurance.

  Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin (R)
Joeseph Biden
Joseph Biden (D)

Palin supported changes in health care in Alaska
Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, took a number of steps in her state to change the delivery of health care, including establishment of a council to advise her and the introduction of the Alaska Health Care Transparency Act. Read more ...

Biden supports expanding availability of health insurance
Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for vice president, outlined a health care plan as a presidential candidate. He said he wanted to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for health care, expand SCHIP, allow the uninsured to pay on a sliding scale to get a plan similar to the one federal employees get and small businesses would share costs with the government. Read more ...


Former candidate Released health care proposal? Responded to questions from AHCJ members?

Access to Health Care Highlights

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton (D)
AHCJ questionnaire

Clinton ended her campaign on June 7.

John Edwards
John Edwards (D)
AHCJ questionnaire

Edwards withdrew from the campaign on Jan. 30.

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani (R)

Giuliani withdrew from the campaign on Jan. 30.

Mike Gravel
Mike Gravel (D)

Gravel withdrew from the campaign on May 25.

Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee (R)

Huckabee withdrew from the campaign on March 4.

Ron Paul
Ron Paul (R)
AHCJ questionnaire
Paul withdrew from the campaign on June 13.
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney (R)

Romney withdrew from the campaign on Feb. 7.