John Edwards on Health Care

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)

No one is not worthy of health care

Bush says he wants people to be able to get out of the Social Security system, choose, elect to get out of the Social Security system. This argument is you shouldn’t have to have health care. If you choose not to have health care, you shouldn’t have to have it. That is a threshold question. It is a judgment. It’s a fair policy debate. There’s nothing wrong with us arguing about this, but I believe there is not a single man, woman, & child who’s not worthy of health care. Everyone should get health care
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Critics call plan backdoor to a single payer system

Edwards is tougher, staking out positions on healthcare, national security, & the environment, much further to the left than he advocated in 2004.

His healthcare plan seems as a backdoor to a single payer system, [according to critics]. “Edwards will give you free healthcare,” warned the National Review. This is a bad thing, of course, because “everyone, in a society of allegedly free healthcare, would actually be paying the collective costs of healthcare. They used to call that socialized medicine.”

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.117 Nov 11, 2007

Don’t spend another decade arguing; get it done

It is true that single-payer healthcare systems in the world dramatically reduce costs and significantly reduce administrative costs, particularly compared to private insurers. It’s also true that a lot of people who are listening to this forum like the health insurance they have now and would like to keep it. And my judgment is, number one, to get it done so that we don’t spend another decade arguing about whether we keep the system we have now or actually have universal healthcare.

My proposal, a bold plan, doesn’t go directly to single-payer--I think it can be accomplished politically. Now, it may be that that gravitates towards a single-payer plan.

I think we can get support from across the political spectrum and will accomplish a lot of what we want to do. Second, it does give people a choice. And I think Americans have become accustomed to having choice, and I think they want to be able to choose what their healthcare plan is.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.144 Nov 11, 2007

Provide incentives for students to go to nursing school

What we need is a universal health care system that gets doctors out of the business of having to deal with insurance companies on a daily basis, to protect them from that. We have a serious nursing crisis. We need to do is expand our nursing schools, give scholarships to young people willing to commit to come out & go to the places that are underserved after nursing school. We need to get rid of things like mandatory overtime, & have safer staff-to-patient ratios so that we can deal with this crisis.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Exactly the same healthcare rights for same-sex couples

Q: What about the special healthcare needs of people in same-sex couples who cannot depend on their partner’s insurance for protection because they are not a legal spouse?

A: Those rights should be available to gay and lesbian couples. In my universal health care plan, and I’ve made it very clear that those rights to gay and lesbian couples would be exactly the same as they would for straight couples. And so those health care benefits would be available to someone in that situation.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Fully fund finding a cure for AIDS

Here are the three things I think we need to do.
  1. We need to fully fund finding a cure for AIDS, so we can end this scourge once and for all.
  2. We need to fully fund the law known as Ryan White, to make sure that the treatment is available for anybody who’s diagnosed with AIDS.
  3. Finally, we need to ensure that Medicaid covers AIDS drugs and AIDS treatment to make sure that people get the treatment they need, particularly low-income individuals who are diagnosed with AIDS.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Mental health parity: treat it just like physical health

We should ban the existence of pre-existing conditions. No more in America. We ought to treat mental health exactly the same way we treat health, mental health parity. We ought to cover preventive care, long-term care, chronic care, vision care, dental care, and people ought to be able to take their health care with them from place to place, from job to job.

I’m confident, during the course of this campaign, that some candidate will say, listen, we’re going to have universal health care, and in the process, we’re also going to eliminate the federal deficit. Is it finally time for us to have a president of the United States that will be honest with the American people?

It costs money to have universal health care. I will be the first to say it. My plan costs $90 to $120 billion a year. It’s not cheap, but I pay for it by getting rid of Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 dollars a year.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

End Bush’s tax cuts to pay for health care

Senator Obama came out with a plan, which I don’t believe is completely universal, but it deserves to be credited because he laid out what the cost is and exactly how he was going to pay for it. But my plan calls for $90 billion to $120 billion a year. I’d pay for it by getting rid of Bush’s tax cuts for people who make $200,000 a year. And I believe you cannot cover everybody in America, create a more efficient health care system, cover the cracks -- you know, getting rid of things like pre-existing conditions and making sure that mental health is treated the same as physical health -- I don’t think you can do all those things for nothing. That’s not the truth. And I think people have been so sick of listening to politicians who come and say, we’re going to give you universal health care, we’re going to change the way we use energy in America, we’re going to strengthen the middle class, have middle-class tax cuts, and in the process, we’re going to eliminate the federal deficit.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Medicare: invest in preventive care & better chronic care

Q: What about Social Security & Medicare? The chairmen of the Federal Reserve say, if we do nothing, you’ll have to raise taxes by a third & cut all the rest of government by 50% in order to meet those demands & expectations of the entitlement programs.

A: Yes. Well, we have a huge challenge on this front. I think the starting place is Medicare, not Social Security, simply because Social Security is significantly longer-term than Medicare. Medicare has very serious short-term, intense financial problems, and there are things we can do that we’re not doing. We ought to have much better chronic care management than we have today. We ought to be investing in a serious and systemic way in preventative care, which we’re not doing today. And we have significant fraud & abuse in the Medicare system. I think there are things we can do to strengthen Medicare. We ought to require providers to compete against each other, & using the power of the federal government to negotiate better prices in Medicare.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

America’s seniors & children victimized by healthcare cuts

You tell me what it means when you ignore 45 million Americans today, who have no health care coverage. What kind of message does it send to 50 million Americans -- including 25 million children, 8 million disabled, 6 million seniors who depend on Medicaid for their health care -- that we’re going to cut Medicaid by $10 billion? What does it say about our country’s values when we cut the help and support for those who are most needy and most vulnerable?
Source: 2005 Take Back America Conference Jun 2, 2005

Double the funding to fight the global AIDS epidemic

The $15 billion for AIDS needs to be doubled. Here at home we need to do much more. Cheney spoke about doing research, making sure we have the drugs available, making sure that we do everything possible to have prevention. But it’s a bigger question than that. If kids and adults don’t have access to preventative care, the possibility of not only developing AIDS and having a life-threatening problem, but the problem of developing other life-threatening diseases is there every day of their lives.
Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Support allowing prescription drugs into the US from Canada

CHENEY: The most important and significant change in health care in the last several years was the Medicare reform bill this year. Medicare used to pay for heart bypass surgery but didn’t pay for the prescription drugs that might allow you to avoid it. It’ll provide prescription drug benefits to 40 million senior citizens.

EDWARDS: They had a choice on allowing prescription drugs into this country from Canada, of being with the American people or with the drug companies. They were with the drug companies. They had a choice on negotiating discounts in the Medicare prescription drug bill of being with the American people or with the drug companies. They were with the drug companies. They had a choice on the patients’ bill of rights, allowing people to make their own health care decisions and not having insurance companies make them, be with the American people, be with the big insurance companies. They’re with the insurance companies.

Source: [Xref Cheney] Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Health care should be viewed in larger context of poverty

Q: Edwards has been saying your health care plan is too expensive. Is his plan ambitious enough?

KERRY: No. My program is more ambitious, because what I would roll back Bush’s tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, and create a federal fund that takes all the catastrophic cases in America out of the private system, which means, effectively, every individual in every business in America will be capped at $50,000 of risk. That will provide each American who has health care today with a $1,000 minimum reduction in their premium.

Q: Sen. Edwards, that is one of the major differences between your plan. Is that idea affordable?

EDWARDS: The issue becomes whether you believe health care is an isolated problem. For those in poverty and the struggling middle class, if one thing goes wrong-if they have a health care problem-they go right off the cliff. I mandate health care for all kids and cover the most vulnerable adults. But we also have to find ways to not only lift these families out of poverty.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Cap on damages for personal injuries is discriminatory

Q: What do you think about the cap on damages for personal injuries?

A: Bush is proposing about this and what happens in our courtrooms shows his philosophy about everything. He doesn’t believe in democracy. He hates the idea that his friends and his supporters are going to walk into a courtroom and be treated exactly the same way as a child or a family who have been the victims of fraud or abuse. The victim have been disabled for life, I mean, this could not be more discriminatory than it is.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Med-mal cases are about accountability for mistakes

[In my first medical malpractice case, I asked for $1.5 million. None of the counsels in our law firm had] ever handled a medical malpractice case before. Back in 1984, juries in a conservative region could scarcely fathom ruling against a doctor or any hospital in a civil proceeding. A car manufacturer, a restaurant, even a police force might be held responsible for damages if its negligence had caused injury to someone. But the notion that a doctor could be liable for causing a patient lasting harm was difficult to square with the public’s view of a physician as a benevolent and all-knowing lifesaver.

But physicians err like the rest of us, and when, through neglect or reckless behavior, they cause damage, they must be held accountable for the consequences of their action or inaction. My challenge would be to shatter the jurors’ prejudice in favor of a good but mistaken doctor and against an alcoholic client and to allow them to see the facts for what they were. [Edwards won the case].

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p. 22 Dec 1, 2003

Campbell verdict empowered nurses & informed consent

[In the Campbell case. Edwards won a $4 million judgement that hospitals were responsible for ensuring that nurses could override doctor’s mistakes.] The Campbell verdict set in motion a wave of reforms throughout the North Carolina medical community. Almost overnight, hospital board members ratified procedures through which personnel could go up a chain of command to protect a patient’s welfare. Hospital nurses later reported to us that they were empowered by the reforms. Hospitals would be stronger now, and safer. On the legal front, Jennifer Campbell v. Pitt County Memorial Hospital made case law on the issue of informed consent: a hospital could now be held liable if it failed to ascertain whether a patient understood the various risks associated with a medical procedure.

After the headlines stopped, I could take some satisfaction in the changes I saw happening. But in the end, this was always a case about one family, about a six-year-old girl and her parents, good working people.

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p.113 Dec 1, 2003

Bush works for big HMOs and big pharma; I stand up for you

We have to do something about the cost of health care in America, and in order to do it, we’re going to have to overcome this culture in Washington that pushes against taking on big insurance companies, big HMOs, big pharmaceutical companies.

I have done it. I have fought them all of my life. It is what I have done since I’ve been in the US Senate. I have offered legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for every single American.

The only reason that the efforts we have made in the Congress to bring down the cost of health care in America are not the law of the land, is because the president works for those people, and we have got to put somebody in the White House who will stand up for you, will stand up against them, and will fight that culture in Washington, that prevents taking them on.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Health care crisis requires fighting big corporations

No one’s talking about cost [of health care to people]. We can’t deal with the health care crisis in America unless we have the backbone and courage to do what I have been doing my entire life: fighting against big corporations, pharmaceutical companies, big insurance companies, big HMOs. The president works for those people. There’s a culture in Washington that stands against taking them on.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

More help to those who fall through the cracks of the system

We will provide additional help for those who need the most help: Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 years old often have the hardest time finding an affordable health plan. Our plan provides millions of low and moderate income Americans in this age group with a 25% tax credit to help pay the cost of their premiums. Americans who are between jobs often cannot afford health insurance. Our plan helps low and moderate income Americans between jobs by offering them a 75% tax credit to help pay for their premiums. Small business employees are far less likely to have health insurance than employees of large business because health insurers tend to charge small businesses higher premiums for the same coverage. We will offer small businesses a tax credit that covers up to 50% of their premium contribution for low-to-moderate income employees, Finally, low-to-moderate income individuals will get a tax credit to help pay the cost of participating in the Congressional Health Plan.
Source: [X-ref Kerry] Our Plan For America , p.104 Aug 10, 2004

John Edwards on Universal Coverage

For universal coverage for kids in ‘04; now coverage for all

Q: Hillary Clinton said, “When Senator Edwards ran in 2004, he wasn’t for universal health care. I’m glad he is now.” Did you oppose universal health care on the campaign in 2004?

A: I was for universal health care for children in 2004. I believe that now we are at a crisis stage. We have a dysfunctional health care system and the only true answer is universal health care for everybody. And I might add, Senator Clinton was not for universal health care at the beginning of this campaign.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Nov 18, 2007

Taking away Congress’ healthcare intended to shake things up

Q: You’ve suggested that if the Congress doesn’t pass universal health care, you would, as president, take away health care privileges for members of Congress, to which Clinton responded, “Sen. Edwards is proposing unconstitutional gimmickry to pass universal health care.” Would this be unconstitutional, given the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches?

A: Well, first of all, when I talk about shaking up Washington and making this place actually work for the American people, it is interesting to watch the people inside Washington, including Senator Clinton, circle the wagons and start protecting Washington politicians. The president has enormous power. He has the bully pulpit to make this proposal to America and to the Congress. If you go across this country and say, “Your Congressman or your Congresswoman is for their own health care and their family’s health care but they’re not for health care for you”--the whole point of this is to shake the place up.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Nov 18, 2007

AdWatch: Universal health care by July 2009

[Edwards’ TV ad, which features him speaking at a campaign event, began running Nov. 13 in Iowa.]

EDWARDS: When I’m president, I’m going to say to members of Congress and members of my administration, including my Cabinet, “I’m glad that you have health care coverage and that your family has health care coverage. But if you don’t pass universal health care by July 2009--six months--I’m going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you.” There’s no excuse for politicians in Washington having health care when you don’t have health care.

EDWARDS PRESS RELEASE: Edwards said on the first day of his administration he would submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress, and all senior political appointees in both branches of government on July 20th, 2009 - unless universal health care legislation that meets four specific, non-negotiable principles has been passed by that date.

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2007 campaign advertisement Nov 13, 2007

FactCheck: President cannot remove Congress’ health care

In Edwards’ TV ad, he says that he’ll tell Congress to pass a universal health care. If it doesn’t happen within 6 months, he says he’ll take away Congress’ health care. Well, that would take some doing. Presidents can’t just negate federal laws at will, and it’s under law that members of Congress gets health insurance. They all have a good menu of plans, but not the gold-plated health coverage that some may believe Congress gets.

All Edwards could do as president is to push Congress to legislate away its own health-care coverage. And in fact, that’s as far as he goes when stating his position on his Web site. In a press release, Edwards says he would “submit legislation that ends health care coverage... on July 20th, 2009--unless universal health care legislation that meets four specific, non-negotiable principles has been passed by that date.”

That doesn’t sound like much of a threat, does it? It may make a tougher-sounding political ad, but it’s a threat that is misleading and empty.

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2007 campaign advertisement Nov 13, 2007

$90B-$120B per year for healthcare, by ending Bush tax cut

Q: How much would your universal coverage plan cost?

A: $90 to $120 billion a year. I know that there will be some who argue that they can do universal health care either for free or for very low cost. I don’t believe that’s the truth. And I think we need to tell people the truth about this. My plan is $90 to $120 billion a year. And I pay for by rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

If not universal coverage, which people wouldn’t be covered?

Q: Tell me how you came to the conclusions you did about universal coverage in your healthcare program.

A: Well, basically what I decided was, first, the only way to have universal coverage was to actually mandate it, in other words, to have a legal requirement that every man, woman, and child in America be covered. That was probably the single most controversial element of my proposal when I made it. I believed that that was important because if anybody’s plan is not universal, then they should be made to explain to the American people what man or woman in America is not worthy of health care. I think they’re all worthy of health care. And then I constructed it in a way that everybody required to be covered, that people could choose between a private plan and the government plan, which is essentially Medicare plus.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Let people choose between private plan and single-payer

Q: What about single-payer?

A: I constructed my healthcare plan in a way that everybody is required to be covered, but that people could choose between a private plan and the government plan, which is essentially Medicare-Plus. I did that for a very simple reason. Because there is a very good and legitimate argument that we should go straight to single-payer health care as other countries have. I’ve also heard the flipside of that from lots of people, who are nervous about going to a Canadian system, for example. We’re going to have the American people deciding what provides the most cost effective, most efficient, best health care.

Q: You would not necessarily eliminate a single-payer system as the best way to go?

A: Oh, no, I would not. I mean, there are huge advantages to single-payer. Much lower administrative costs. But I thought it was something that we should let Americans decide. Get everybody covered, get rid of the holes in the system.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Take on insurance & drug companies, who have blocked reform

I do think that there’s a fundamental issue that voters need to focus on in looking at these health-care plans, because I believe without taking drug companies, insurance companies, and their lobbyists head on, we will never have universal health care. They are what has stood between America and universal health care for decades now. Some candidates argue that you should give them a seat at the table, you should negotiate with them, compromise with them. I fundamentally disagree with that. If, in fact, you could compromise with drug company lobbyists, for example, and negotiate with them and reach a deal, we’d already have universal health care. The reason we don’t have universal health care is these people have absolutely no intention of giving away their power voluntarily. We have to take their power away from them. I don’t think that change will ever occur unless you’re willing to confront what’s wrong fundamentally with the way Washington and lobbyists work in Washington.
Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Comprehensive coverage costs $90B to $120B a year

Q: Must we raise taxes in order to provide health care for Americans?

A: I do not believe you can have universal health care for free. There are some who I think will make that argument. I don’t think it’s the truth. My own health care plan, which was the first one in this campaign and I’m very proud of it--comprehensive, requires coverage for everybody--costs $90 to $120 billion a year. And I pay for it by getting rid of Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish Sep 9, 2007

FactCheck: Plan costs $106B-$146B per year, not $90B-$120B

John Edwards low-balled the price tag for his ambitious health care plan, massaging the numbers by using an impossible assumption. Edwards said, “My own health care plan.costs $90 to $120 billion a year.”

Actually, the cost of the plan in its first year would be $105.6 billion to $145.6 billion, according to an independent estimate by Emory University professor Ken Thorpe. That assumes the plan could be enacted quickly and take effect in 2010, within a year of the new president being sworn in. The Edwards campaign says the candidate’s $90 billion to $120 billion price tag is what the plan would cost if it were in place today--which isn’t possible. An aide says the campaign worked with Thorpe, and their estimate is based on Thorpe’s estimate of the cost as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product. But it is not an estimate of what the plan would cost in the first year it possibly could take effect, and Edwards didn’t make that clear.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision Sep 9, 2007

2004: universal coverage irresponsible; but US has changed

Q: In 2004 when you ran for president, you said we could not afford universal health care, it was not achievable, and it was not responsible. You’ve changed dramatically on this issue.

A: That’s true and so has America. I proposed universal health care for children at that point. What happened in ‘94 is we didn’t get universal health care, but we got NAFTA. And when I’m president, you have my word I will never pull the universal health care bill. I will making sure that’s enacted.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Congress grants healthcare to all, or give up their own

FactCheck: Edwards overstated his own proposal when he said, “I will say to the Congress... you lose your health care” unless it passes universal health care by July 2009. That’s an empty threat, since no president has the authority to strip members of Congress of health insurance which is given to them by federal law.

Edwards’ legislative plans would have been more accurately portrayed as asking Congress either to grant health care to all citizens or give it up for themselves.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

For universal coverage, must mandate everyone be covered

Q: [to Obama]: Sen. Edwards says your plan doesn’t really provide universal coverage. Does it?

OBAMA: Absolutely it does. John and I have a disagreement. John thinks that the only way we get universal coverage is to mandate coverage. I think that the problem is not that people are trying to avoid getting health care coverage. It is folks like that who are desperately in desire of it, but they can can’t afford it.

Q: [to Edwards]: Does Sen. Obama provide universal coverage

EDWARDS: No, because the only way to provide universal coverage is to mandate that everyone be covered. Sen. Obama’s made a very serious proposal, and I’m not casting aspersions on his plan. It just doesn’t cover everybody. The only way to cover everybody is to mandate it. We have talked about it too long. We have got to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies. It is the only way we’re ever going to bring about real change. We should be outraged by these stories.

Source: [X-ref Obama] 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate Jul 23, 2007

FactCheck: Medicaid already covers treatment for HIV/AIDS

Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina incorrectly implied that Medicaid does not cover treatment and drugs for HIV/AIDS. Edwards said, “We need to ensure that Medicaid covers AIDS drugs and AIDS treatment--to make sure that people get the treatment they need, particularly low-income families who are diagnosed with AIDS.”

Actually, Medicaid, a state-administered health care program for the poor, covers AIDS drugs already. There are no state limitations on Medicaid coverage of AIDS prescriptions.

What Edwards may have been trying to say is that he favors extending Medicaid coverage to low-income HIV patients who don’t qualify for Medicaid because they aren’t yet sick enough to be considered disabled. Even for low-income persons, just being diagnosed with HIV is not sufficient to be eligible for Medicaid. Many low-income people with HIV are not eligible for Medicaid until they become disabled, despite available therapies that might prevent disability.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard U. Jun 28, 2007

Obama’s health plan will leave about 15 million uncovered

We have a threshold question about whether we’re going to have truly universal care. The New Republic has estimated that Obama’s plan will leave about 15 million people uncovered. He says he will do something about that later. I believe unless we have a law requiring that every man, woman and child in America be covered, we’re going to have millions of people who aren’t covered.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Require employer coverage for every single American

Q: Which taxes would you raise to pay for health care?

A: I would get rid of Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year. My universal health care plan would require employers to cover all their employees or pay into a fund that covers the cracks in the health care system--mental health parity; chronic care; preventative care; long-term care; subsidized health care costs. Give people a choice, including a government choice. And require that every single American be covered.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Dysfunctional health care system needs bold, dramatic change

We have is a dysfunctional health care system. And what we need is a big, bold, dramatic change, not small change. And we do not just fix our health care system, we need to fix our military & veterans’ health care system.

Basically what we do is cover all Americans. In my plan there’s shared responsibilities. The employers are required to either cover their employees or to pay into a fund that will help pay for coverage for their employees. The government plays an important role. The government will set up health care markets all across America, and in each of those markets if you’re the consumer, you can go in and choose what your health care plan would be. Some of the choices are private insurers, and then one choice is a government plan, basically a Medicare Plus plan. And the idea is to determine whether Americans actually want a private insurer or whether they’d rather have government run Medicare Plus kind of single-payer plan. And we’ll find out over time which way people go.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Universal coverage makes US business more competitve abroad

Q: One of the criticisms of your plan has been that it’s not aggressive enough in dealing with health care costs. You talk about saving money through preventative care, through using technology that is available but that really isn’t being used a lot in the health care industry. But what about small business?

A: My plan deals directly with the concerns that small business has. We have a competitiveness issue not only between competitors here in America, we have a huge competitiveness issue between our businesses in America and the rest of the world. If we have a truly universal health care plan that covers every single American from the time they’re born until the time they die, it makes American business more competitive in the world. We’re spending $1800 on health care costs on every car that’s manufactured in America, compared to about $250 in Japan. Creates a huge disadvantage. What my plan specifically does for small business is it gives them market power that they don’t have today.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Not possible to get universal coverage without raising taxes

Q: There are going to be candidates who suggest that it’s possible to achieve universal coverage without raising taxes, without new sources of revenue. You have been very up front about the fact that your plan does involve tax increases. Do you think it’s possible to get there without them?

A: No, I do not. I spent a great deal of time studying this issue, working with health economists around the country. I’ve spent many months on this. I do not believe you can have universal health care without finding a source of revenue. We don’t get universal health care for free. You have to cover 47 million people who don’t have coverage. There’s going to be a cost associated with the transition from the health care system we have today to a truly universal and more efficient health care system. So, no, I do not believe it can be achieved without finding an additional source of revenue. [If you believe a politician who says that], they probably got a bridge in Brooklyn they want to sell you too.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Job-based insurance can be accomplished, not single-payer

Q: Many people argue that the whole idea of basing your health coverage on where you work is just an anachronism. It’s a historical accident. You, however, chose to build on that system. Why?

A: It is true that single-payer health care systems in the world dramatically reduce costs and significantly reduce administrative costs, particularly compared to private insurers. It’s also true that a lot of people who are listening to this forum like the health insurance they have now and would like to keep it. And my judgment is to get it done so that we don’t spend another decade arguing about whether we keep the system we have now or actually have universal health care. I think my proposal, a truly universal plan, but doesn’t go directly to single-payer, can be accomplished. And second, it does give people choice. Now, it may be that choice gravitates towards a single-payer plan [by consumers choosing a Medicare-Plus option]--but consumers will decide that.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Silence is betrayal about universal healthcare-we can’t wait

Forty years ago, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech about the war in Vietnam. And he said there comes a place in America’s history where silence is a betrayal, and we can no longer stand silent.

Silence is a betrayal in America today. We cannot stand silent on 47 million of our own people who desperately need health care coverage and have no health care coverage. I am the first candidate to come out with a detailed, substantive, truly universal health care plan for every man, woman and child in America. And I want to say to you I don’t want to wait six or eight years to have universal health care. I want to start putting universal health care in place as soon as I am sworn into office in January of 2009, which is what America needs. We can’t wait.

Anybody who tells you that they’re going to have a universal health care plan, but they don’t have to find a new revenue source to pay for it -- they might have a bridge in Brooklyn they want to sell you too.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Expand Medicaid & create health markets to cover uninsured

Q: You support universal health care: What kind of plan would you propose?

A: I will be laying out details of a universal health care plan. We want to make sure everybody’s covered, we want to help middle class families with the costs, we want to try to create competition that doesn’t exist today. And I think the most effective way to do that is we take the 47 million people who don’t have health care coverage, we expand Medicaid, we provide subsidies for people who don’t have coverage. We ask employers to play a bigger role, which means they either have to have coverage, or they have to buy into what we’re calling health markets. One of the choices available in these health markets is the government plan. So people who like the idea of a single-payer insurer health plan, that is actually one of the alternatives that people can choose. We expand SCHIP; we expand Medicaid. The bottom line is we’re asking everybody to share in the responsibility of making health care work in this country.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

Increase taxes to pay for universal insurance

Q: You support universal health care: noble goal, but that’s 47 million more people. How much would that cost?

A: It’d cost between $90 and $120 billion a year once it’s fully implemented.

Q: Would you be willing to raise taxes in order to help pay for this?

A: Yes, we’ll have to raise taxes. The, the only way you can pay for a health care plan is there has to be a revenue source. The revenue source I’m proposing is, is first we get rid of George Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year. And then, we need to do a much better job of collecting the taxes that are already owed.

Q: But you’d be willing to increase taxes to provide health care?

A: Yes, absolutely.

Q: What about Social Security and Medicare? If we do nothing, you’ll have to raise taxes by a third to meet those demands of the entitlement programs.

A: Yes. Well, we have a huge challenge on this front. I think the starting place is Medicare, not Social Security, simply because Social Security is longer.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

We need universal health insurance

We have to stop letting the health insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical concerns decide our nation’s health care policy. We have to give the silent victims, who stand in line at free clinics and use the expired medicines of friends and neighbors, we have to give them the dignity of universal health care. Will you stand up for universal health insurance in America?
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards.com Feb 1, 2007

It is morally wrong to leave so many Americans uninsured

It is morally wrong to tolerate an America with so many uninsured and underinsured Americans. Working Americans who do not have health insurance live in the neighborhoods we call home. We see them every day behind the counter and around the corner. They build America’s houses, run our small businesses, bag our groceries, and care for our elderly and our kids. And some American families, more than others, tend to fall through the cracks of our health care coverage system.
Source: [X-ref Kerry] Our Plan For America , p.101 Aug 10, 2004

Start providing health insurance for every child in America

Our plan starts by providing health insurance for every child in America. Under the Kerry-Edwards plan, the federal government will pay the full costs for the 20 million children in the Medicaid program. In return, we will ask states to expand coverage to children in families with higher incomes than are currently eligible, as well as low-income adults. It will expand coverage to millions of people & provide much needed relief for states that are struggling under persistent growing budgetary pressures.
Source: [X-ref Kerry] Our Plan For America , p.103 Aug 10, 2004

Provide a bonus for states to get children insured

Kids will be signed up automatically at hospitals, community health centers, and schools. And $5 billion in enrollment bonuses will be available to states as an incentive to find uninsured children and keep them covered. Children do not choose their parents and whether to have health insurance. Children deserve a good start - with both high quality education and health care. Under our plan, every child in America will have health insurance, and every parent will have a little more peace of mind.
Source: [X-ref Kerry] Our Plan For America , p.103 Aug 10, 2004

Cover every child and vulnerable adults

I support a health care plan that would cover every child and millions of vulnerable adults, and also bring down health costs for all Americans. I support a strong Patients Bill of Rights, prescription drug benefit in Medicare, and stem cell research.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Cover 3m Hispanic kids & have National Translation Center

My healthcare plan will cover 3 million Hispanic children. I’d double the investment in public health facilities, the safety net that takes all comers to get the health care they need. And , to deal with the language disparities that Hispanic families face every day, we should set up a national translation center, open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so that we don’t have children of Hispanic adults translating to doctors about the problems that their parents are facing.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

John Edwards on Voting Record

Require health insurance for every child

Health Care for Every Child. Edwards proposes that for the first time in history, America should require health insurance for every child, with tax credits to help families with rising premiums. He will take on insurance companies, drug companies, and HMOs to bring down health care costs for every American.
Source: Real Solutions For America, campaign booklet by John Edwards Aug 6, 2003

Voted NO on $40 billion per year for limited Medicare prescription drug benefit.

S. 1 As Amended; Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act of 2003. Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $400 billion over 10 years to create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients beginning in 2006. Seniors would be allowed to remain within the traditional fee-for-service program or seniors would have the option to switch to a Medicare Advantage program that includes prescription drug coverage. Private insurers would provide prescription drug coverage. Private Insurers would engage in competitive bidding to be awarded two-year regional contracts by the Center for Medicare Choices under the Department of Health and Human Services.Enrolled seniors would pay a $275 deductible and an average monthly premium of $35. Annual drug costs beyond the deductible and up to $4,500 would be divided equally between the beneficiary and the insurer. Beneficiaries with incomes below 160 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for added assistance.
Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit bill; Bill S.1/H.R.1 ; vote number 2003-262 on Jun 26, 2003

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada.

S. 812, as amended; Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2002. Vote to pass a bill that would permit a single 30-month stay against Food and Drug Administration approval of a generic drug patent when a brand-name company's patent is challenged. The secretary of Health and Human Services would be authorized to announce regulations allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers that provide drugs for importation would be required to register with Health and Human Services. Individuals would be allowed to import prescription drugs from Canada. The medication would have to be for an individual use and a supply of less than 90-days.
Reference: Bill S.812 ; vote number 2002-201 on Jul 31, 2002

Voted YES on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages.

Vote to provide federal protections, such as access to specialty and emergency room care, and allow patients to sue health insurers in state and federal courts. Economic damages would not be capped, and punitive damages would be capped at $5 million.
Reference: Bill S1052 ; vote number 2001-220 on Jun 29, 2001

Voted NO on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Vote to pass an amendment that would make up to $300 billion available for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for 2002 through 2011. The money would come from the budget's contingency fund. The amendment would also require a Medicare overhaul.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-65 on Apr 3, 2001

Voted YES on including prescription drugs under Medicare.

Vote to establish a prescription drug benefit program through the Medicare health insurance program. Among other provisions, Medicare would contribute at least 50% of the cost of prescription drugs and beneficiaries would pay a $250 deductible
Reference: Bill HR.4690 ; vote number 2000-144 on Jun 22, 2000

Voted NO on limiting self-employment health deduction.

The Santorum (R-PA) amdt would effectively kill the Kennedy Amdt (D-MA) which would have allowed self-employed individuals to fully deduct the cost of their health insurance on their federal taxes.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)53; N)47
Reference: Santorum Amdt #1234; Bill S. 1344 ; vote number 1999-202 on Jul 13, 1999

Establish "report cards" on HMO quality of care.

Edwards adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Promote Universal Access and Quality in Health Care
That more than 40 million Americans lack health insurance is one of our society’s most glaring inequities. Lack of insurance jeopardizes the health of disadvantaged Americans and also imposes high costs on everyone else when the uninsured lack preventive care and get treatment from emergency rooms. Washington provides a tax subsidy for insurance for Americans who get coverage from their employers but offers nothing to workers who don’t have job-based coverage.

Markets alone cannot assure universal access to health coverage. Government should enable all low-income families to buy health insurance. Individuals must take responsibility for insuring themselves and their families whether or not they qualify for public assistance.

Finally, to help promote higher quality in health care for all Americans, we need reliable information on the quality of health care delivered by health plans and providers; a “patient’s bill of rights” that ensures access to medically necessary care; and a system in which private health plans compete on the basis of quality as well as cost.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC5 on Aug 1, 2000

Let states make bulk Rx purchases, and other innovations.

Edwards signed a letter from 30 Senators to the Secretary of HHS

To: The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary, Department of Health & Human Services

Dear Secretary Thompson:

As you know, prescription drug costs have been surging at double-digit rates for the last six years. The average annual increase 1999 through 2003 was a massive 16%, seven times the rate of general inflation.

These increases fall hardest on senior citizens and the uninsured. Their health needs are often great, and their low incomes often make these products unaffordable. They have no ability to use their combined purchasing power to negotiate reasonable prices. Taxpayers pay tens of billions of dollars for the purchase of drugs by Medicaid—an expense that could be reduced significantly if states are permitted to negotiate for the best prices from drug manufacturers.

As you know, the Supreme Court has just ruled that Maine's innovative program to reduce prescription drug costs for the uninsured and senior citizens is not a violation of the Medicaid law. As a result of this decision, Maine can use the combined buying power of Medicaid and individuals purchasing drugs on their own to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers. Twenty-nine other states supported the position taken by Maine, and there is broad interest in many states in initiating similar programs.

The Supreme Court's ruling, however, left open the possibility that if the Department of Health and Human Services makes a finding that the Maine program violates the Medicaid statute, the Department's action would be upheld by the Court. We urge you not to intervene to block Maine's program or similar statutes in other states that achieve savings for taxpayers, the elderly, and the uninsured. Such programs must be carefully implemented to assure that the poor are not denied access to needed drugs, but there is no justification for the federal government to deny states the ability to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of their neediest citizens.

Source: Letter from 30 Senators to the Secretary of HHS 03-SEN6 on May 20, 2003

Rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

Edwards scores 100% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

End government propaganda on Medicare bill.

Edwards signed a letter from 6 Senators to Directors of Television Networks

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through a public relations firm, distributed Video News Releases (VNRs) to numerous local television news stations across the country. These VNRs contain pre-scripted news story packages and B-Roll designed to influence local news station to run stories complimentary of the new Medicare law recently signed by President Bush. However, these VNRs may mislead many news stations because they do not identify that they are produced by the government. In addition, these materials are currently being evaluated to determine whether they are illegal "covert propaganda."

We urge you to immediately warn stations not to use these materials and pull any stories that use them.

These tapes can be identified as follows: Two English-language versions begin with B-Roll of video slides promoting the new Medicare law, followed by interview soundbites from Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Leslie Norwalk, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Following these soundbites, a complete television news package is run, with a voice-over by a fictional reporter named "Karen Ryan." Following the news package, more B-Roll is provided, including scenes of President Bush's rally at the signing of the bill, scenes from a pharmacy and scenes of seniors playing table games.

It is critical to the credibility of an independent news media that covert government propaganda be rejected for use by news organizations. We also believe that honest government should not resort to such deceptive tactics, and it is our belief that these materials violate the above-mentioned Federal law. Thank you for your cooperation with this request.

Source: Letter from 6 Senators to Directors of Television Networks 04-SEN3 on Mar 15, 2004

Other candidates on Health Care: John Edwards on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010