The Presidential Candidates' Health Plans: A First Look

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<p>Health care is the top domestic issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, with rising costs and the growing ranks of the uninsured putting pressure on candidates to offer concrete plans for health system reform. So far, the three leading Democratic candidates have put forth health care proposals and two Republican candidates have offered elements of their health care platforms.<br><br>In a <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=30036&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecommonwealthfund%2Eorg%2Faboutus%2Faboutus%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D533029%26%23doc533029">new column,</a> Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis and vice president Sara Collins review the strikingly similar plans from Senators Clinton, Edwards, and Obama. For example, they point out that all three of these Democratic candidates would expand coverage by building on the strengths of the current system--pooling risk in large groups, generating efficiencies through employer-based coverage, and building on the success of public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).<br><br>In contrast, Republican candidates Governor Romney and Mayor 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. <br><br>The Commonwealth Fund and its Commission on a High Performance Health System will continue to follow the debate with great interest, the authors write, analyzing what is offered and providing periodic reports over the course of the campaign to inform public understanding of the issues and strategies under discussion.</p>