Presidential Candidates Scramble Around Healthcare

It's still awhile even until the primaries, but already candidatesof both parties are jostling to get their healthcare plans outthere. In recent polls, healthcare was rated as the top issue onthe domestic scene. And no wonder: premiums for family coveragehave risen by 87 percent since 2000, according to Kaiser.

The number of uninsured Americans has risen to close to 45million, and the diabetes crisis, of course, is expandingexponentially.

The Republicans tend to propose tax incentives that would allowconsumers to buy their own insurance from private insurers, and theywarn about the potential horrors of government-controlled healthinsurance. Some Democrats do envision more government involvement,possibly with subsidized coverage for people who can't afford theirown insurance.

On the other hand, everybody is being careful to avoid pittingthe haves against the have nots. So members of both parties aretrying to show how their plan will hold down costs for the peoplewho are already paying for insurance before trotting out anythingspecific about the vast uninsured problem.

It's a far cry from ten years ago when the Clintons' healthcareinitiative collapsed and sent everybody running from the issue. Noweverybody is going in the opposite direction. Senator Barack Obamahas proposed a plan to cover many, but not all, of America'suninsured, and Senator Hilary Clinton, burned once, is now viewed bymany as too cautious on the issue.

The Republicans vow that they're just as committed to fixing thehealthcare system as Democrats, but not by using what they call theDemocrats' tilt toward government-mandated plans. Instead, theywant to use free-market solutions; for instance, Mr. Giuliani wantsto give people a tax deduction if they buy their own insurance. Ofcourse, if you make so little that you don't pay taxes, that mightnot help you all that much.

For a detailed discussion of the whole morass, see the New YorkReview of Books article at

Source: The New York Times

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