Barack Obama’s Healthcare

Last week Senator Hillary Clinton detailed her vision and plan for reducing healthcare costs. Her cost reduction plan for healthcare is part of a larger Progressive Agenda which she submitted to the public earlier this week. Hillary knows how treacherous the healthcare waters are. Hillary knows not to overpromise and not to underestimate the opposition nor the difficulty of achieving universal healthcare coverage.

A few days ago, Senator Obama produced his healthcare plan. Obama for months had spoken, as he so often does, with many inspirational adjectives about what he would include in his first ever national healthcare plan. Earlier this year, on January 25, 2007, according to his own website, Obama spoke at a healthcare forum and said this:

“In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how. We have the ideas, we have the resources, and we will have universal health care in this country by the end of the next president’s first term.”

Barack Obama, Speech in Washington, DC

Obama’s statement was actually much more emphatic than his website let’s on. Preceding the Obama quotation above were these sentences:

Plans that tinker and halfway measures now belong to yesterday. The President’s latest proposal that does little to bring down cost or guarantee coverage falls into this category. There will be many others offered in the coming campaign, and I am working with experts to develop my own plan as we speak, but let’s make one thing clear right here, right now: In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American ….”

The Washington Post, unrefuted by the Obama campaign apparatus, quoted Obama’s actual words as even much more emphatic: I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country,” Obama told a conference of Families USA, a health care advocacy group.”

All the high flying talk and promises aside, Time magazine has now reviewed Obama’s healthcare proposal and concluded:

In truth, Obama’s plan could fall somewhat short of real “universal coverage.” It would exempt the smallest businesses from the requirement that they cover their workers. (The exact size of the exemption has yet to be determined, but one campaign official said it would apply to businesses employing “some number less than 15.”) And while it would require coverage of children, adults could choose not to take advantage of his plan and go uninsured, even if they could afford coverage.”

The Hillary and Edwards campaign are critical of Obama’s scheme: “One difference among the Democrats is whether all Americans should be required to have health insurance. Obama said he would mandate coverage only for children. Edwards has proposed mandatory insurance for everyone, and Clinton’s campaign said Obama didn’t go far enough. “We have to achieve true universal healthcare so that every American has health care coverage,” said Neera Tanden, the campaign’s policy director, in a statement yesterday.”

Neera Tanden, policy director for the Hillary campaign added,

“We commend Senator Obama for entering the healthcare debate and supporting incentives to make healthcare more affordable; Senator Clinton has long fought to expand healthcare coverage and initiated the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that now covers 6 million children and has led the fight in the Senate to pass health information technology.

“Senator Clinton believes that in addition to making healthcare more accessible, we have to achieve true universal healthcare so that every American has health care coverage.”

Obama argues that his proposal will eventually succeed in achieving universal healthcare coverage. We laughingly suppose it is possible that, with sufficient deaths and cessation of births, by 2012 any plan could achieve universal coverage. However, unless you are Richard Lamm, that is not rational public policy. It is also not rational as Senator Obama seems to think, that somehow the opposition to universal healthcare will be anything less than ferocious, sustained, organized, well-funded, and highly partisan.

There are many ideas on healthcare being proposed. But only one candidate has the experience, has faced all the pitfalls already, to actually get the job done.

Years ago Hillary achieved her goal of getting healthcare coverage for millions of children. She is experienced, determined, and willing to fight to get healthcare coverage for all Americans.