Barack Obama (D)

Barack Obama

Health care plan: Barack Obama's Plan for a Healthy America (PDF)
Health care agenda on

Health care stance: Obama released a health care plan proposal in May 2007. The plan would establish a new public insurance program, available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers. It would also 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.

Health care plan highlights:

  • Provide affordable, comprehensive and portable health care
  • Health IT investment, which will reduce unnecessary spending in the system that results from preventable errors and inefficient paper billing systems
  • Improving prevention and management of chronic conditions
  • Increasing insurance industry competition and reducing underwriting costs and profits, which will reduce insurance overhead
  • Providing reinsurance for catastrophic coverage, which will reduce insurance premiums
  • Making health insurance universal, which will reduce spending on uncompensated care

For the TalkingHealth webcast on covering the underinsured, Obama released this statement.

Links, articles, and more information:

Excluded voices: An interview with Theodore Marmor: CJR's Trudy Lieberman is introducing a series of interviews with a wide range of people and perspectives on the health care discussion. The first is an interview with Yale professor Theodore Marmor, a health care expert and the co-author of a recent op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The headline was, "Health-care plans familiar; Obama and McCain fall into old traps when it comes to financing."  

Health Reform in a New Era: Options for the Obama Administration: Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis outlines several possible courses of action on health reform for the Obama administration. (Nov. 8, 2008)

Commonwealth Fund releases analysis
The Commonwealth Fund analyzed the health system reform proposals of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. The report describes the 2008 presidential candidates' proposals, examines key differences in their vision of a future health insurance system, and evaluates the proposals against principles outlined by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

Actuarial organization publishes, analyzes candidates' health care reform plans
Contingencies, a publication of the American Academy of Actuaries, has published articles about health care reform by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, as well as one by an actuary who weighs the candidates' proposals.

Decision 2008: The Future of Our Nation's Health Care System
On Sept. 16, 2008, top advisers discussed the presidential candidates' plans for health care at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Audio of this session is available. Speakers were:
• Daniel Kessler, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Professor, Stanford University Graduate School of Business; Health Policy Surrogate, 2008 John McCain Presidential Campaign
• E. Richard Brown, Director, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research; Professor, UCLA School of Public Health; Health Policy Advisor, 2008 Barack Obama Presidential Campaign
• Doug Sovern, Reporter, KCBS-AM (Moderator)

Health Affairs has published studies examining the McCain and Obama health care plans and what their impact would be. (Sept. 16, 2008) NOTE: Access to Health Affairs is free to AHCJ members.
Obama Health Plan: More Regulation, Spending; by Joseph Antos, Gail Wilensky, and Hanns Kuttner
McCain Plan: Transformation, Less Coverage; by Thomas Buchmueller, Sherry A. Glied, Anne Royalty, and Katherine Swartz
• Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis, Ph.D., examines the Health Affairs articles.

Businesses Wary of Details in Obama Health Plan: (10/27/08) The New York Times' Kevin Sack writes about the fears some small business owners have about presidential candidate Barack Obama'a health care plan. Although Obama has not released details, economists believe he might require large and medium companies to contribute as much as 6 percent of their payrolls to health insurance for their employees.

Health of the State: (10/13/08) The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn writes about whether the economic crisis means Obama should abandon plans for health care reform and other infrastructure spending.

Ask the Experts: The Obama Health Reform Proposal, 10/08/08, webcast
Sen. Obama has proposed a plan that builds on the existing employer-based system, while expanding public programs, putting in place new insurance regulations and providing new coverage options. In this live webcast, moderator Larry Levitt, vice president, Kaiser Family Foundation, and David Cutler, adviser, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), will discuss the plan.

Decision 2008: The Future of Our Nation's Health Care System (Sept. 24, 2008)
On Sept. 16, 2008, top advisers discussed the presidential candidates' plans for health care at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Audio of this session is available.

Obama campaign reveals science advisors (Sept. 17, 2008)
Brandon Keim writes on the Wired Science blog that, "Barack Obama has established a small but well-regarded inner circle of science advisors that includes a vocal critic of creationism, a Nobel laureate who has championed open-access research, and another laureate who used his prize money to defend academic freedom against the war on terror."

Obama win could spark regulatory frenzy, says ex-FDA chief counsel (Sept. 9, 2008)
Anthony Vecchione writes in Medical Marketing & Media about a question posed at the Food and Drug Law Institute's 20th annual Advertising & Promotion Conference in Washington, D.C.: What impact will the presidential election have on advertising regulation? Presenters speculated that, based on his stance on other issues, Obama could be more willing than McCain to take governmental action against perceived market failures.

Obama pledges to restore promise of the U.S. (Sept. 8, 2008)
San Francisco Chronicle political writer Carla Marinucci breaks down Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, drawing out pledges he made on specific issues including health care.

Health care on the Mississippi
A Columbia Journalism Review series by Trudy Lieberman examines how ordinary people from different parts of society would fare under the health care plans of Obama and McCain. She focuses on Helena, Ark., a town of 6,300 along the Mississippi River, in hopes that the press will follow suit and do the same thing for people in their areas.
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

Candidates' Abortion Views Not So Simple (Aug. 20, 2008)
The narrative of the presidential campaign appeared to be set on the issue of abortion: Sen. Barack Obama was the abortion-rights candidate while Sen. John McCain was the abortion opponent. But those impressions have been altered since the Rev. Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on Aug. 16.

Obama proposes small business tax credits for health (July 13, 2008)
This Reuters story discusses Obama's plan to provide breaks for small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees.

"Under the plan, small businesses would get a refundable credit of up to 50 percent on premiums paid on behalf of their employees. To be eligible, small businesses will have to offer a quality health plan to all of their employees and cover a meaningful share of the cost of employee health premiums."

Obama and McCain: two sides of the coin (June 15, 2008)
Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times compares proposals from Obama and McCain on how to make health care more affordable, cut taxes and adopt a new energy strategy.

"On healthcare, Obama leans hard on government action to make insurance more affordable and, ultimately, universally available. He would make coverage mandatory for children, expand federal subsidies for the uninsured, and impose new funding requirements on employers.

McCain, in his health plan, shuns that infusion of government money and authority. He instead would rely on market competition to drive down costs. He would establish new tax incentives for individuals to get their own health insurance and reduce the incentives for people to get insurance through their employers."

Obama, Elizabeth Edwards to Partner on Healthcare? (June 10, 2008)
For more about Edwards' position on health care, read what she said at AHCJ's 2008 conference.

Obama goes after McCain's health care plan (June 5, 2008)

Candidates address the childhood obesity epidemic: The Washington Post asked each presidential candidate to address the childhood obesity epidemic. They were asked the following questions:

  • As president, how would you make the issue of childhood obesity a national health priority?
  • What role do you think the federal government should play in tackling the issue, and how much additional money would you commit to that?
  • Would you support national regulation of food advertising and marketing to children? Why or why not?
  • Would you seek to amend the No Child Left Behind law to mandate physical education in schools and measurements of its progress? Why or why not?

In a Dec. 30, 2007, appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Obama discussed his health care plan and how he feels it differs from the plans proposed by Hillary Cinton and John Edwards.

"Obama calls on HHS to provide list of failed nursing homes," press release, December 6, 2007

"Obama defends health insurance plan," The Nashua Telegraph, October 10, 2007
Obama discussed his health care proposal and his positions on stem cell research and other issues in an interview with the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph. In the interview, Obama addressed the fact that his proposal would not require U.S. adults to obtain health insurance and discussed whether such a requirement is enforceable. A video of the interview is also available on the Telegraph Web site.

The Presidential Candidates' Health Care Plans: A First Look, September 26, 2007
Karen Davis and Sara Collins, president and vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, review the health plans of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. They point out the similarities in three democratic plans, explaining that all three would expand coverage by pooling risk in large groups, generating efficiencies through employer-based coverage, and building on the success of public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.

They find some similarities in the Republicans' plans as well: both Romney and Giuliani would rely on tax incentives to induce consumers to purchase individual insurance coverage--now the weakest part of the insurance market. They would eliminate much state regulation of private insurance, and try to expand coverage without committing to new federal budget outlays.


The July/August 2007 issue of the The Commonwealth Fund's States in Action: A Bimonthly Look at Innovations in Health Policy includes the health care reform proposals of Rudy Giuliani and Barack Obama.

Creating a Health Care System that Works (

Barack Obama Discusses Health Care Reform Plan (video)

"Obama's incomplete health plan" The Boston Globe May 30, 2007

New Leadership on Health Care, a presidential forum (video)

Democratic presidential candidates speak about AIDS epidemic, June 28, 2007 (video)

Track Obama's campaign funding at The Center for Responsive Politics' Race for the White House Web site.