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Sweet column: Universal health care emerges in Obama, Clinton, 2008 race. Plus, the Sharpton primary. Obama on African-American support.


WASHINGTON -- Radioactive for more than a decade, universal health insurance emerged Thursday as a 2008 Democratic presidential primary issue for chief rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama delivered an ambitious first campaign pledge: health care coverage for everyone by the end of 2012.

"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 health care group dealing with the problems of the millions of uninsured in the United States.

As first lady, Clinton was given the health portfolio in 1992 by President Bill Clinton. She dropped her bid to create universal health care after it was undermined by the health insurance lobby as "Hillarycare" and fizzled in a Democratic-controlled Congress.

On Thursday, Clinton set down a marker for her presidential campaign, telling a meeting of the nations' mayors, "I believe we still need to make a commitment to universal health care."

Clinton said she has "scars" from her rough health care battle, but it gave her important experience. "So I'm an expert on how you have to handle this health care debate now."

Obama, Clinton and the other major 2008 contender, former Sen. John Edwards, all advocate versions of universal health care and plan to offer proposals later.

Most health insurance in the United States is obtained through employers, and Obama said it may be time to sever the link and ask if "the employer-based system of health care itself is still the best for providing insurance to all Americans."

Clinton's openness to revamping health insurance delivery back in 1992 and 1993 triggered an uproar by opponents who claimed the nation was headed to Canadian-style coverage and health care rationing.

Obama argued that the political and economic climate has changed and what is costly to business is "caution."

He added, "We are not in 1992. We are not in 1993. We are not in 1994. We do not have to be intimidated."

Sharpton 2008 shopping
The Rev. Al Sharpton courted Obama, Clinton and 2008 hopefuls Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Biden in Capitol Hill meetings as he said he would entertain running again if his civil rights agenda was not addressed.
Clinton and Obama both praised Sharpton and assured him they cared about his views and agenda.

Obama, the only African American in the 2008 contest, was asked if he would have any trouble winning black votes:

"If you look at the black vote in my U.S. Senate race or my approval ratings back in Illinois, I feel pretty confident that once folks know who I am, then we will be just fine."


That is a very ambitious pledge. I hope that he also concerns himself with establishing a policy that assures that all of the current and future health insurance beneficiaries are delivered the specific health care that they need.

For example, Medicare managed care beneficiaries have the right to appeal decisions made by the insurer, when the decision consists of the denial of a benefit (health care procedure) in whole or in part. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not always enforce those rights.

Universal Healthcare will cost Democrats another election. Americans do not want to be herded into a Canadian/French style system that will restrict their freedom of choice in physicians, hospital, and new medical technology. All universal systems impose these tradeoffs and the rich people in such systems usually come to the US for their healthcare.

To Gary R., tell that to the baby boomers who can't leave a job they hate or are forced to pay zillions of dollars, if they're self-employed and are only one major illness away from financial ruin because the premium will jump even higher.

the reason it's taken so long to address Healthcare and why there are few plans is because of Hillary.
She has no credibility on the issue. but, she has no credibility on much of anything. Even her so called image makeover. I think it's a little late for that.

Sharpton has yet to "interview" Edwards. I find it amusing because he will proclaim no one is addressing civil rights to his satisfaction so will get in and run.
I heard Hillary was all over the place pandering to him in her office. I think her obsessing about Obama is getting to her.

It is not sufficient to throw out the phrase Universal Health Care. In general most Americans do not know what it is. Some intentionally refused to know because Sen. Hillary Clinton was involved. Most Americans did not like the fact that Mrs. Clinton was deviating from the traditional role of the First Lady.
Universal Health Care is not Social Medicine, not Canadian or French system. Universal Health Care will as a matter of fact improve the American Health Care System. The truth of the matter is, we currently - indirectly have Universal Health Care. How? Hospitals by law can not turn you away because you do not have insurance. The problem with current arrangement is that the few who have insurance pay more for those who do not have insurance. Again for those who do not have insurance usually go to the doctor only when they are really sick – usually for Emergency treatments which are again more expensive.

We all have to start somewhere!! I think by default he has Hillary beat on the issue.

There is a web site, that details candidate positions on various subjects.

I don't understand why people continue to whine about the elimination of choice in national heath care. Where is all of this choice now? Sure, I can choose to see any doctor I want, but I'll bankrupt myself if I choose a doctor out of my PPO network. What choice is that? It is the illusion of choice.

While on vacation in Italy in 2005, my daughter came down with a fever. When I took my daughter to the emergency room, the first question was: "How is she feeling?" and not "Can I see your insurance card?"

Based upon right-wing propaganda, I expected the hospital to be some backward, socialist dungeon. In fact, there were no long lines for care. There was a superb staff of doctors and the hospital was modern and clean. By comparison, the experience was far more civilized and humane than ours.

I would love to see Rev. Al Sharpton run!

Giovanni - "bankrupt myself" out of network? What ins plan do you have?
So, there are usually at least some "good" doctors you can choose from in-network. Get recommendations from friends, etc.
"Right-wing propaganda"? You might want to read more about universal healthcare.

Julio - "You might want to read more about universal healthcare."

You might want to re-read my post. I have experienced universal health care.

My insurance plan is Blue Cross / Blue Shield. I know the details of my plan. It is not an unusual plan. It covers about 10,000 CPS employees.

You might benefit from giving-up an ideological opposition to universal health care. Facts will help you see things more clearly.

Just learn to read and the rest will follow.

Outlaw - "You might want to read more about universal healthcare."

You might want to re-read my post. I have experienced universal health care.

My insurance plan is Blue Cross / Blue Shield. I know the details of my plan. It is not an unusual plan. It covers about 10,000 CPS employees.

You might benefit from giving-up an ideological opposition to universal health care. Facts will help you see things more clearly.

Just learn to read and the rest will follow.

Neither H. Clinton, nor Obama are talking about real Universal Health Care.
They are confusing the meaning of Universal Health Care on purpose.
What they are talking about is MANDATORY Health Care Insurance or, so called, "affordable health care".

We have Mandatory Car Insurance but nobody calls it Universal Car Insurance.

Under the plans proposed by Edwards, Clinton, Obama, etc. we will have new Slavery in which the slaves are supposed to be we, the American citizens.

What we need is COMPETITION between Private Healthcare Insurance for those who can afford and chooses it and National Health Care that has nothing to do with Private Insurers.

The plans proposed by Dem and Rep politicians practically are the same in fundamental principles. I can speculate that this similarity may be explained by the secret agreement that was reached beetwen Dems and Reps at a secret meeting in New York that took place last year, according to Public Radio in New York that gave this information precisely at the time when the meeting took place.

It is very likely that the Dems will lose in elections if they insist on their current Health Insurance plans

We need Canadia/European-style Universal Health Care.

2012 is a nice target and i wish the guys responsible will meet the target date and hopefully, things will all push through as planned.

Good luck....

You may have experiences universal healthcare, but I think you should do more homework because you can take someone over here in the states and they can have the same reaction. You haven't seen it all, just the tip of the iceberg. Universal healthcare may tickle your ears but that don't mean its right. Read some of the statistics from other countries with it and see the hard facts of horror yourself. Universal healthcare is like signing up for a waiting list and hoping your healthy enough for the government to put money into.

Well, I just started learning about this issue. I saw Michael Moore's "Sicko" yesterday. I know many people do not like him and the veracity of his facts are called into question constantly but I was still affected by the documentary. It has sparked my interest.

I myself do not have Health Insurance. I'm 30 years old. I do have a day job but health benefits are not provided. I may be able to afford it but I'm paying off college loans on consolidation and I am desperately saving money to put into a ROTH IRA.

I'm still learning the facts, but based on my experience, I am leaning toward Universal Health Care. A lot of people in this country are forced into jobs they hate and are scared to leave because without it they do not have health insurance. I have a friend who is diabetic (Type I, born with it) and he nearly died because he was in a job for a while that did not provide health insurance. He couldn't afford the insulin. Now, he has given up his dream to become a writer and is now an office manager but at least he has health insurance.

Ayn Rand talked about these circumstances. It's the unwritten truth that you are held by an invisible gun to your head. If you don't work your job, you will be fired, your family will suffer and you won't have health insurance.

If there is legislation protecting the people from government abuse of health care then I don't see why we can't have it. When big business controls health care they seek to profit and that's it. I know, because I haven't been for a check up in over 5 years... I can't afford it! Fortunately, my family has a dentist they're friends with and have used for 30+ years so I'm lucky as hell there ... but what about others? Why can't we have a system like London? Doctors still have an excellent lifestyle but they take care of their people.

Don't get me wrong, I am not fully endorsing socialism, but isn't universal health care a way to make our tax dollars work for us instead of Social Security which hardly does anything for anyone anymore? I see it not as the Government taking control, we are paying for it with taxes anyway. According to the Constitution, our government exists prevent others from taking our rights in the pursuit of happiness. How the hell can you pursue happiness when criminal drug companies, HMO's and insurance companies are profiting from denying people essential health care?

I am open to any factual evidence in support or against Universal Health Care.

I have been a nurse for 38 years and I have watched the progression of the American waistline to enormous. Even healthcare workers are in bad shape-overweight,lazy,many are heavy smokers. I have read that everyone needs "simple" healthcare. Well there is no such thing! When you go to the Dr.for and antibiotic and he finds you 100 pounds over weight with high BP and smokers cough you are entering the medical black hole-there is not enough money anywhere to pay for your future healthcare costs. That is just the tip of a monstorous iceburg!!!I have reduced my weight,exercise and manage my BP but it takes work and Americans don't like that word. I think first that all insurance co. should test for nicotine and cancel coverage if it is present. Then they should mandate weight loss programs or you are out. I stuggle because people laugh at me exercising-I feel like a social outcast-people are crazy thinking the government has enough money to care for them forever. Get smart America!!

I think everyone can agree that... 1) healthcare has become a headache and 2) This is not not how it was/is supposed to be. So now we, and i say we because it is greater than a two candidates, a president, a insurance company, that we as americans need to fix it. Health Care premiums are out of control. As a healthy 25 year old you would think that health care coverage would be the least of my concerns. However, after breaking my arm last year i was introduced to the machine. Under private health care i was confronted with limits, which doctor i could go to, which medications were covered etc. Those who say universal is optionless need to wake up. We are already slaves under our current health care plans. They name the price and we pay the bills, if we can. It is unfair and not what america was built on; a foundation that gives everyone a chance. It is just all so wrong... when did a insurance company get the right to start running our lives? PS under my current ppo and my companies matching contributions i pay $180 a month from my merger earnings.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 26, 2007 6:38 AM.

Sweet column: Clinton's 'shock and awe' blitz. Obama's hideout. was the previous entry in this blog.

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