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Health Policy Reform in the 2008 Election Season


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With the 2008 presidential election dominating headlines, health policy reform—and the candidates' health plans—are also making news. The Commonwealth Fund has published a number of pieces, available below, that explain and analyze the candidates' proposals, as well as the issues at stake in the campaign and beyond.

To inform viewers about the presidential candidates' plans to broaden health insurance coverage, a Commonwealth Fund–supported "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" program, "Rx for Change," featured a discussion moderated by Susan Dentzer with Neera Tanden, domestic policy director for Senator Barack Obama's campaign, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy advisor to Senator John McCain, as well as Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University and Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation. The show premiered September 30.

Also check out Commonwealth Fund staff discussing the candidates' plans in the media. In a recent episode of the CUNY-TV show, "One to One," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis is interviewed by Newsday reporter Sheryl McCarthy about the candidates health plans. A video editorial by Davis—where she compared the candidates' health plans—was published in the Medscape Journal of Medicine on October 13. Earlier in the month, Davis contributed an entry about health reform following the election to a new National Expert Blog on In March, Davis spoke at the Association for Health Care Journalists annual conference, Health Journalism 2008. She joined three others in a roundtable on health reform in the 2008 election. A video of the session is available on the Kaiser Health Cast Web site. Karen Davis also appeared on the CUNY TV show, "One to One" on February 20, 2008. Watch the interview with Sheryl McCarthy of Newsday.

Sara Collins, assistant vice president for the Program on the Future of Health Insurance at Commonwealth Fund, reviewed the candidates' plans on the March 3, 2008 episode of "The Bob Edwards Show."

The 2008 Presidential Candidates' Health Reform Proposals: Choices For America
This new analysis examines key differences and areas of agreement in the health system reform proposals of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. The report describes how each candidate would seek to expand health insurance coverage, improve the quality and efficiency of the health system, and control costs. Also see a Web feature that compares the two plans.

The Public's Views on Health Care Reform in the 2008 Presidential Election
This Commonwealth Fund survey of adults age 19 and older, conducted from June 2007 to October 2007, finds that large majorities of the public, regardless of political affiliation or income level, say that the candidates' views on health care reform will be very important or somewhat important in their voting decision.

Health Policy Reform: Beyond the 2008 Elections
This supplement from the March/April issue of the Columbia Journalism Review draws on the work of the Commission on a High Performance Health System to provide an evidence-based context for understanding the fundamental problems plaguing our current health system, as well as policy options under consideration for addressing them.

Health Care in the 2008 Elections: Where Do the Candidates Stand on Promoting a High-Performance Health System?
Together with the Alliance for Health Reform, the Fund sponsored a briefing on March 14 in Washington, D.C., on "Health Care in the 2008 Elections: Where Do the Candidates Stand on Promoting a High-Performance Health System?" Speakers at the event included Katherine Hayes, adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gregg Bloche, M.D., adviser to Sen. Barack Obama; Raissa Downs, adviser to Sen. John McCain; the Alliance's executive vice president Ed Howard, J.D.; and the Fund's Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., assistant vice president for the Future of Health Insurance. See a webcast of the event on

Health Care Opinion Leaders' Views on the Presidential Candidates' Health Reform Plans
When asked to consider the health reform proposals of the 2008 presidential candidates, most leaders in the fields of health care and health policy favor plans that build on the nation's current mixed system of public and private group insurance, according to the latest Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey.

A High Performance Health System for the United States: An Ambitious Agenda for the Next President
This report from The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System reviews the health care policy goals—and the strategies for achieving them—that should be on the next U.S. president's agenda.

A Roadmap to Health Insurance for All: Principles for Reform
This report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System presents principles for health care reform that will be critical to achieving universal coverage and a high performance health system. Three different approaches to health care reform—proposed by governors, current presidential hopefuls, and congressional lawmakers—are compared for their ability to achieve universal coverage, improve quality and efficiency, and rein in costs.


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