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A Healthy Disagreement


Clinton discussing her health care plan in Ankeny today. (AP).

ANKENY, Iowa -- She was two hours late after her campaign plane blew a tire. But when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton finally arrived here this afternoon, she offered her harshest critique yet of Sen. Barack Obama's approach to health care reform.

Meanwhile, in the ongoing debate over which Democratic candidate offers the best plan, Obama and John Edwards outlined ways in which they would force people to purchase coverage.

In an effort to provide insurance to the estimated 47 million Americans who don't have it, both Clinton and Edwards have called for mandating health coverage. But yesterday for the first time, Edwards outlined the consequences for people who don't want to buy insurance, proposing to garnish their wages. Obama, who would require all parents to provide coverage for their children, said he would fine parents who failed to do so, although he did not detail how much this would cost.

In her Ankeny speech, delivered in the gym of a community college, Clinton rebuked Obama for imposing a coverage requirement on children, but not their parents or other adults.

"If we don't have universal health care, then we will be betraying the Democratic Party's principles," said Clinton. "Imagine if President Roosevelt had said, well let's have Social Security, but let's start by leaving out millions of our seniors. Or suppose President Johnson, figthing the fight over Medicare, said you know, let's just cover some of our seniors with Medicare, eventually the others will catch up. That is not the way it works. They knew what it took to make big important changes in our country. They also knew if you aim too low, if you give up before the fight is started, then you have no chance of making it to the finish line."

Obama has criticized Clinton for not detailing how she would enforce such a mandate, and she largely sidestepped the issue today, saying she would automatically enroll some people if they came to hospitals and qualified for subsidized insurance. Obama has proposed this as well. The question remains as to what she would do for people who have high incomes and don't qualify for subsidized health insurance, but choose not to purchase it.

Edwards also entered the fray by announcing he would send collection agencies after people who don't sign up health insurance and require proof of health insurance on their tax returns.

"Barack Obama's plan leaves out 15 million people," Edwards said in a statement. "The truth is that some people will choose not to buy insurance even though it's affordable, knowing that the rest of us will pay for their emergency room visits."

Obama advisers dispute this estimate, arguing that people choose not to purchase insurance because of its high costs, not because they don't want it. His staff estimates up to 99% of the uninsured will gain coverage under his plan, leaving about three million uninsured in a country of 300 million.

In a conference call with reporters, Obama criticized Clinton for not taking the step Edwards has in declaring how her mandate would work in practice.

"Until she clarifies what exactly she intends to do to enforce this mandate -- is she going to fine people, is she going to take other steps to enforce it -- this is more of a political point that she's trying to make than a real point," he said.

That a wonkish subject like health-care mandates has become a political flashpoint reflects the closeness of the campaign, particularly in Iowa. In recent weeks, Clinton has relentlessly blasted Obama's health care proposal, as she courts Democratic voters who rank health care as one of their most important issues.

What's not clear is whether the attacks are effective. Obama, Clinton and Edwards share the basic goals of insuring more people, getting more low-income people on Medicaid, offering subsidies for people who can't afford private coverage, and making it easier for them to buy health insurance in the private market.

Clinton and Edwards are essentially attacking Obama for not requiring people who don't want insurance from being forced to get it. Clinton argued Obama's plan imposes a "hidden tax" on Americans because health care prices will remain high as long as every person is not in the health care system. Obama aides say they will bring more people into the system through voluntary means.

--Shailagh Murray and Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  November 28, 2007; 6:34 PM ET
 
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Comments

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though any may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
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The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where torturing people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
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Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
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Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
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Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
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Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKK or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKK and Nazi Party.
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We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
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If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22gang+stalking%22.
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Posted by: avraamjack | November 30, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I would suggest that anyone who is interested in this issue read Paul Krugman's excellent column called Mandates & Mudslinging. I'm sorry Obama supporters but Obama is not being truthful on this issue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/opinion/30krugman.html?hp

Posted by: pmorlan1 | November 30, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Obama is good in believing that all parents should be required to provide health coverage for their children, but he shouldn't fine people who don't because, say, they can't afford it. Clinton and Edwards also have good plans, and it is true that not having universal health care would go against the Democratic party's principles.

Posted by: ccschlichting | November 29, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I want universal coverage. It is a cornerstone of a modern, civilised society. Universal coverage is where everyone is GIVEN coverage, not forced to have it. It is best implemented as a single-payer solution.

Mandated coverage is NOT universal coverage. Obama's plan clearly is not either but it is completely disingenuous for Clinton to pretend she has any kind of high ground here. Out of the two, I prefer Obama's.

Posted by: roo_P | November 29, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree with NoMugwump. Mandated coverge is an atrocious idea. Yes, certainly the goal of universal coverage is good. But to penalize those that choose not to buy insurance is ludicrous. Sen Clinton appears to be more interested in scoring political points than in creating an effective solution. We can do better.

Posted by: bsimon | November 29, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Hillary's gonna force you to buy something. The insurance industry's loving this one. Harry and Louise II, here we go again.

Massachusetts' new "mandated" plan is failing with countless residents falling through the cracks. There is no 100% solution and forcing people into a program will backfire big time.

Hillary's little experience in Bill's two terms was a health care plan that bombed. Mary Baker Eddy, your church will have new life as the only thing that can help us if Clinton's plan God forbid, comes to pass is prayer.

Those who do not learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them. Clinton missed that lesson as well.

Posted by: NoMugwump | November 29, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Auto insurance is mandatory but we still have to buy uninsured motorist insurance. You can't guarantee 100% will do anything, voluntarily or not. Either you take insurance companies entirely out, which won't happen soon if at all, or make them compete fairly and openly. Fact is there will be a penalty for those who can afford insurance and won't get it to save a few bucks. They'll be garnished to collect the fees owed for health care! That's standard procedure already: poor credit rating, collection agencies, etc. Where Obama's plan is different from both Clinton and Edwards is in reducing both the obscene inflation in healthcare costs and in health insurance. Can someone please cover that little detail? Also, what experience does Edwards have negotiating across the aisle? Only to acquiesce to business interests, as he only rated 32% from the League of Conservation Voters when he was Senator. How successful has Clinton been? Only when acquiescing to things like the Iraq and now Iran resolutions that are more conducive to war than diplomacy, as she fully knows. Obama is famous in every political role he's played for skilled negotiation, for successful collaboration with Republicans and law enforcement to achieve Democratic goals without compromising values. Want universal healthcare with healthy open competition in services and prices, no more bankruptcy over healthcare, then vote for Obama.

Posted by: VCubed | November 29, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"His staff estimates up to 99% of the uninsured will gain coverage under his plan, leaving about three million uninsured in a country of 300 million."

Either y'all misquoted them or you need to hire a 5th grader with an aptitude for word problems to proof this stuff.

Posted by: zukermand | November 29, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Anyone looking for some new Hillary video from an SC stop and an interesting commentary on how race is impacting that primary should try: http://goupstate.us/index.php/lanefiller/2007/11/27/hillary_and_the_black_men_of_god

Posted by: lanefiller | November 28, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll

http://www.votenic.com

The Only Poll That Matters.
Results Posted Every Tuesday Evening.

Posted by: votenic | November 28, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Poor Dimocrat Reps. Having to shrill for their Lobbyist Masters on this Issue!

Insurance! FORCE Everybody to buy INSURANCE! WE(The Masters) want our investments in you(Their Slaves, but unfortunately OUR Representaives) payed back the usual Ten-Fold!

THEN, after we get all our Money back, we'll toss you Reps some more to get the Supplemental Insurance to begin filling in SOME of the UNCOVERED aspects!

BUT, whatever you do-Don't bother stopping 20,000,000 Illegal Freloaders from passing all their unpaid Bills off on the suckers who Voted for you! Just make SURE you force them all to support US!


BwaaHahahaha!!!!!

Posted by: rat-the | November 28, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

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