Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama vs Clinton Health Care Plans

As I said that I would do in my last post, I have studied and compared the high-level information on the health insurance plans of both Clinton and Obama. Just as I was finishing this post, I read the following:

Regardless of the Presidential campaign and proposals, it is important to have strong better options coming out of Congress.

Here are the four simple questions to ask of any health care proposal:

1. Is it Universal (covers all people)... but just that is not enough, you must also find out how the proposal deals with items 2, 3 & 4:

2. Is it Comprehensive (does it cover all needed conditions, prevention, treatment)?

3. How much is it going to Cost Individuals; is it affordable year-in and year-out and can you afford to get sick (their total cost in taxes, premiums, deductibles, copays, uncovered conditions/expenses, total out of pocket...)?

4. How much is it going to Cost Overall, total cost of the system to the country (and yes, we do need overall cost-control); and how is it paid for, and who is paying, all the pieces, direct and indirect?
As it turns out, these are also the concerns that I had in mind and that shaped my analysis. For that analysis, I used the side-by-side comparison found here. The comparison breaks out the provisions of each plan in 13 categories.

I think the merits of each plan can best be assessed by digging deep into the details to a greater degree than is presented at the link above. However, I have based my comparison on the information at this link, and it still took me a fair amount of time to do so. So of course, there are questions that I have that would require still more detailed information to answer (the devil is in the details, as they say). But I will use what I have, which I think is more than most voters would stop to consider.

I copied the table at the link into a Word document and appended an extra column in which I entered my comments. I also inserted some of my questions in the text as I was reading through the document, using the Insert, Comment menu function. These can be viewed by selecting the View, Markup menu function or the Show, Reviewing Pane function on the Reviewing Toolbar.

I used yellow highlighting for provisions that I considered most noteworthy. I used other highlight colors to point out some important provisions in both plans that are similar or identical to each other.

Based on my comparison, there are four important categories in which I judge that Clinton’s plan has an advantage over Obama’s plan, based solely on the information in the document. These are:
  • Expanding access to coverage
  • Premium subsidies to individuals
  • Premium subsidies to employers
  • Changes to private insurance
On the other hand, I am concerned about the effect of each plan on the national deficit. The estimated cost of Clinton’s plan when fully phased in is $110 billion per year. At that level, I wonder how we will prevent the deficit from ballooning even further out-of-control. My hope is that we as a nation would have the political will to re-set our national priorities to emphasize health care for all over war and dubious, unnecessary, multi-billion dollar weapons programs.

Obama’s plan is estimated to cost about half of Clinton’s plan. If economists and accountants agree that it actually would cost that amount, then that fact could make it more politically palatable in order to get it passed. I am still skittish about the 1994 collapse of national health care. The best plan in the world isn’t worth anything if we can’t get it passed into law.

Is Clinton’s plan far-and-away better than Obama’s? I don’t think so. However, based on what I now know, I do judge Clinton’s plan overall to be the better plan.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Why are you for Obama rather than for Clinton?"

In my campaigning to be elected as a California Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, one of the people I contacted by email wrote back:

Can you explain why you're for Obama rather than for Clinton?

I will be honest--and I'm embarrassed to admit it--but I know very little about their platforms. I know that Paul Krugman thinks that Clinton's health plan will cover twice as many people as Obama's. That seems very important. Also, heard on the news today that Obama's (military?) adviser thinks that the Iraq pull-out should start in 2010.

If you've campaigned so furiously for Obama, you must think he is the better candidate--and I assume that you think that he will put better policies in place.

What about beating McCain? My feeling is that Clinton would have a better shot at beating McCain.

Since you are so active politically, why not have an email list of like-minded acquaintances who you communicate regularly with? I would like to be on that email list!

Here is how I replied:

The last week (before April 13) has been kind of crazy. I was at the San Joaquin County Democratic Central Committee on Saturday, Alameda County Central Labor Council on Monday, Stockton Democratic Club on Tuesday and the Tracy Democratic Club tonight. The good part is that things are looking really positive for the election in which I am running.

I picked up some voter lists at the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters office when I was there yesterday. These are for the precincts surrounding Williams Middle School in Tracy. On Saturday we will be walking the neighborhood asking Democrats that live near the school to come on out and vote for Lea (Austin, my “slate-mate”) and me.

Our party is blessed to have had three great candidates, each of whom could have made or will make an excellent president, or even be among the greatest presidents. I have the utmost respect for all three of them, including Senator Clinton. I do not seek to disparage any of our candidates. I would have voted and will proudly vote for any one of them
as our party's nominee.

You raise some good questions, and that led me to dig up some information that compares the healthcare plans of the three people left standing. I will study that information carefully. I think that both of the Democratic plans are far superior to what we have now.

As for troop pullout from Iraq, everything I have heard from Obama's own mouth says it would start in 2009.

Yes, I do think that Obama is the better candidate, in fact the one candidate that would be able to lead our country in the new direction that it desperately needs to go. I think that his policies would be more progressive than those of the Democratic Leadership Council to which Senator Clinton belongs. The DLC is a centrist organization that operates mostly to the detriment of the necessary future direction of the Democratic Party, in my opinion.

A big factor in my support of Obama is his judgment. I have the utmost confidence in his judgment to say and do the best thing in any given situation. I also admire his world-view, largely based on his childhood upbringing, as well as his innate vision of what our country can become and what needs to be done to get us there. I believe he will restore our integrity among the community of nations. I think he will demonstrate bold vision as president and implement bold initiatives, and even accomplish these things with bipartisan support. His can be a transformative presidency, rising above the partisanship that wreaks havoc in Washington, and leading others above it as well. Unfortunately, I think that Senator Clinton suffers from too much negative perception among many Americans, and that would seriously impair her ability to accomplish the same thing.

On the electability question, I feel strongly that Obama will beat McCain and that Clinton would have a much tougher fight against McCain than Obama. I have talked to people, including Republicans, and observed polling results that show that Obama will draw significant support from independents and even Republicans, which would not be the case for Senator Clinton.

By the way, I am not trying to win over Clinton supporters to vote for me instead of attending their own caucus. Each presidential candidate already has a determined number of delegate positions, and I figure that it would be an honor and a privilege for me to fill one of Obama's slots and represent the 11th Congressional District as one of Barrack Obama's pledged delegates.

As for communicating with other like-minded acquaintances on a regular basis, I will most definitely be doing that on Kephalos!

Obama's Army

Current TV is showing their footage of Obama's Texas operation. Check out that woman in a cowboy hat about 2 1/2 minutes in. Is that Maggie Fleming?

Great, inspiring video: