Tuesday, December 25, 2007

As pollingreport.com indicates here, surveys consistently have shown health care to be either the second or third most important political issue to Americans. One of the critical issues faced by presidential aspirants in formulating their health care policies is whether to include mandates, requiring Americans of all ages to carry health insurance. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted of the candidates, "without a mandate, they find, the plan will fall far short of universal coverage. Worse yet, without a mandate health insurance will be much more expensive than it should be for those who do choose to buy it."

Clearly, the health care plan of every Democrat running for the top office is superior to that of any Republican. (No, we do not have the finest health care system in the world and, yes, there is a proper, increased, role for government.) Still, on which side of the mandate question does each Democrat, according to his or her website, fall?

First, we'll dispose of Dennis Kucinich- favorably, because he is the only candidate publicly supporting a single payer system, which obviously would provide health care for all. And now, an excerpt from each website (excepting that of Mike Gravel, whom I can't bring myself to care about):

Joe Biden: "While insuring all children must be our top priority, it is also important to offer uninsured adults access to health care." Verdict: no (Beware the euphemism "access.")

Hillary Clinton: "Individuals: will be required to get and keep insurance in a system where insurance is affordable and accessible." Verdict: yes.

Chris Dodd: "Universal coverage will be achieved through a shared mandate on individuals and businesses: universal coverage through universal responsibility." Verdict: yes.

John Edwards: "Once these steps have been taken, requiring all American residents to get insurance." Verdict: yes.

Bill Richardson: " Like auto insurance, all Americans will have to have health coverage and employers will pay their fair share of employee health care costs." Verdict: yes. (Krugman: "....while the enforcement of car insurance mandates isn’t perfect, it does greatly increase the number of insured drivers.")

And most critically-

Barack Obama: "Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage...." Verdict: no.

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