Health Care + Politics = Good for You?

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 26, 2008

Here’s a look at some health care news coming out of the Democratic National Convention and other interesting stories on politics and health care …

From Campaign for America’s Future (these events can be streamed at

– On Tuesday at 2pm MT, Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey will talk about the principles of the new Health Care for America Now! Coalition to the thousands of activists and bloggers attending in person and online during the “Take Back America” event at the convention’s “Big Tent,” outside the Pepsi Center.  Rep. Jan Schakowsky, one of the progressive health care champions in the Congress, will talk about the need for health care change, sign HCAN’s statement, join HCAN in urging Members of Congress and candidates to publicly declare their position on the health care choice that confronts the new Congress:  Are you with us for a guarantee of quality affordable health care for all? OR Are you for leaving us on our own to buy private health insurance?

– On Wednesday at 2:30 pm MT, the Healthcare for America Now! Coalition and SEIU will host a rally featuring DeVotchka, Death Cab for Cutie, Chuck D and Jim Hightower at Sunken Gardens Park.

On “Fresh Air” today, Terri Gross talks with political scientist Jonathan Oberlander, who offers an in-depth comparison of the Obama and McCain health proposals. Oberland compared the candidates in his report, “The Partisan Divide — The McCain and Obama Plans for U.S. Health Care Reform,” which was published Aug. 21, 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Audio will be available this afternoon. Here’s more background on the two plans.

Harry and Louise are back again, in a new ad with an interesting mix of backers. Trudy Lieberman writes at Columbia Journalism Review: “The significance of the current Harry and Louise redux is not that groups with wildly different agendas can now play nicely together — although arguably that’s the message the sponsors want to send. It’s that the range of acceptable solutions to the health care crisis hasn’t advanced much since 2000. Or since 1994, for that matter.

Is health care no longer a primary ailment? “It was once the ‘it’ topic of public policy that helped propel the Clintons into office, sparked open warfare among special interests, and then toppled a Democratic Congress,” writes Jill Zuckerman at the Chicago Tribune.

For a while, health care was that which was not spoken about following the 1994 legislative debacle. For Sen. Hillary Clinton, it was something that taught her great lessons. And in the drawn- out Democratic primary fight between her and Obama, the cost and availability of health care were daily fodder in the debate over which candidate would do a better job as president.

And now, there is … not much.

The continual tussle between the two presumptive presidential nominees — Obama and McCain — has largely centered recently on national security and the high price of gasoline. Public opinion polls have shown that among the top issues of concern to Americans, health care is languishing far behind the economy, the war and the price of gas. One CBS poll from July put voter interest in health care at just 3 percent. In August, it was at 8 percent.

But a number of political experts quoted say health care costs are still a concern, even though it doesn’t get as much attention or publicity as high gas prices and energy costs.

“Beneath all that, when you probe, when you ask people what’s bothering you about the economy right now, in economic downturns — problems paying for health care and health insurance really loom large,” said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “After people’s fixations paying for gas prices, problems paying for health care are right at the top with job issues.”

Not so much health-related, but Women’s eNews has coverage of a slew events taking place in Denver around women’s issues.

Here’s Nancy Keenan of NARAL, who spoke at the convention Monday afternoon:

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