Senator Obama,

As a constituent a multiple contributer, I am aware of your history of fighting for AFFORDABLE health insurance for illinois working families.

I know that as a former democratic chair of Health and Human services committee in the Illinois Legislature you have successfully worked to provide health insurance for working families. This is an issue that you have deep passion for; I'm aware that as a young state senator, one of your most ambitious goals was to make it CONSTITUTIONAL for every illinoisan to have health insurance as good as what Senator Lobbyists FreeRide got(lol). It failed because of a republican governor and republican majority in the Springfield. So when Paul Krugman spews untruths like "i suspect he's not serious about universal healthcare" I wonder if he's done his homework.


You're making a big mistake!

This is a communication issue: Your approach to universal healthcare is distorted by a respected progressive economist, Mr. Krugman.

You have said that YOU ARE NOT OPPOSED TO MANDATES, but don't think MANDATES SHOULD come UPFRONT before there's assurance of lower cost, afterall, folks won't purchase until they know it's affordable.

You have also said that this is all about LEVERAGE: That if you can have proof that your insurance is CHEAPER than private options, THEN you are in a good position to enforce a mandate!

As Mr. Krugman's own reader said in a response to his highly critical review of mandates, the experience of California and Massachussets suggests carrots will be better than sticks at the beginning of a healthcare reform process.

Re "Mandates and Mudslinging" (column, Nov. 30):

Paul Krugman dismisses Senator Barack Obama's points about health insurance mandates as "echoing right-wing talking points" on health care. Really?

It was two pragmatic Republican governors, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, who proposed mandates as cornerstones of their respective health reform plans.

In California, resistance to that approach has come primarily from unions and Democrats. Although I have favored the mandate component of Mr. Schwarzenegger's plan, Mr. Obama raises valid points about the practicality of immediate mandates as the path to universality.

In California, there are real questions about whether the insurance that people would be required to buy and able to afford, even with subsidies, would be worth having. Massachusetts has already had to grant waivers to many.

In addressing this issue, carrots may prove more effective than heavy-handed sticks.

John Walkmeyer
San Ramon, Calif., Nov. 30, 2007 n/lweb04krugman.html?_r=1&oref=slogi n
It seems Mr. Krugman hasn't seen you say this despite you giving extensive interviews with New Hamsphire Editorial Boards about this. asp?MultiID=70&HTitle=VLTitle

So In the INterest of neutral voters who want to get a better health care system,

I suggest that you PEN an open ed in the New York Times about your specific approach and how that will be a superior and pragmatic approach.

I know that you have emphasised that the president must allow a transparent process and that will be key to engaging americans who want affordable healthcare desperately.

Thank you for your service to our beloved country.

Tags: Barack Obama, krugman, mandates (all tags)



This is a loser for Obama

A letter to the NY Times would just make it worse.

by dpANDREWS 2007-12-07 03:25AM | 0 recs
Krugman is right, n/07krugman.html?_r=1&hp&oref=sl ogin

Finally, Mr. Obama is storing up trouble for health reformers by suggesting that there is something nasty about plans that "force every American to buy health care."


Mr. Obama's health plan is weaker than those of his Democratic rivals, but it's infinitely superior to, say, what Rudy Giuliani has been proposing. My main concern right now is with Mr. Obama's rhetoric: by echoing the talking points of those who oppose any form of universal health care, he's making the task of any future president who tries to deliver universal care considerably more difficult.

I'd add, however, a further concern: the debate over mandates has reinforced the uncomfortable sense among some health reformers that Mr. Obama just isn't that serious about achieving universal care -- that he introduced a plan because he had to, but that every time there's a hard choice to be made he comes down on the side of doing less.

by TomP 2007-12-07 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman is right,

You'd actually be pretty pressed to figure out what Obama's actual priority is if he were to win... I'd guess it have something to do with sitting down  with Republicans and figuring it out.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-12-07 03:36AM | 0 recs
Yeah Jerome

Thats exactly what he should do.

by rapcetera 2007-12-07 04:21AM | 0 recs
it's a sign of the times

jerome is really immature; it's amazing. i have lost all respect for the guy.

i mean it is completely beneath a front page blogger like him to be inserting stupid snarks into issue blog posts without even making a substantive contribution.

by pmb 2007-12-07 05:08AM | 0 recs
Sounds petty to me

Getting nervous there Jerome?  It's okay.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-12-07 04:30AM | 0 recs
jerome, bill clinton seems to think

that the next president must move early to build alliances in congress before they even get going.

so it seems that'd be a good priority.

by pmb 2007-12-07 05:02AM | 0 recs
Don't get sidetracked by the mandate debate

New Hampshire Concord Monitor Editorial:

The great health care mandate debate is a sideshow. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards insist that forcing individuals to buy a policy is crucial to providing universal health care or something close to it. Rival Barack Obama disagrees. A mandate may be necessary to force those who refuse to sign up once affordable options are available, he says, but that step should come at the end of the march to universal care, not at the beginning.

The debate has degenerated into arguments over who is or isn't being honest with voters. The question voters should focus on is which candidate, if elected, can convince enough Republicans - who will use words like "confiscation" to describe any mandate - to go along with a plan. The next question should be: Is this plan the best and most affordable path to universal coverage?

On the honesty question, when it comes to health care mandates, the edge goes to Obama. He rightly says they force people to buy something before they know what it will cost and how good it will be, and many won't comply.

A mandate could make insurance cheaper for everyone by forcing the young and healthy, a group that traditionally opts out of the system, to sign up. But making people buy insurance before good plans are affordable could lead more people to ignore the mandate. A mandate to buy insurance before much more is done to make it affordable would also mean even higher profits for insurance companies and bigger government subsidies to make coverage affordable.

Nor do mandates come close to guaranteeing universal coverage. The Massachusetts health care plan enacted when Republican Mitt Romney was governor mandates coverage. By the end of this month, every Massachusetts resident is supposed to be enrolled or pay a penalty.

The plan has caused some 200,000 previously uninsured people to sign up, according to the New York Times. But at least that many, and probably far more, have not. The $219 penalty in the form of a loss of the personal exemption on the state income tax was not severe enough to prompt everyone to enroll. That penalty is expected to grow to at least $1,000 next year.

The Massachusetts plan has two other problems that the presidential candidates should address. The state has had to exempt an estimated 20 percent of its population from the mandate because they can't afford to participate. And the cost of subsidizing insurance for the many low-income residents who signed up for the plan greatly exceeded predictions, and that's before the double-digit increase in rates insurers are expected to charge next year.

Government mandates have been used to force people to buy auto insurance, immunize their children, pay child support and pay workers a minimum wage. But compliance rates, according to the journal Health Affairs, are far from universal; just 77 to 85 percent for immunization and 30 percent for child support. Some studies have found that despite mandates, about 20 percent of people still don't buy auto insurance, which is why the rest have to pay extra to guard against uninsured motorists.

Edwards's plan would catch people who aren't enrolled when they pay the income tax or when they get health care. That might work, but it won't be cheap. About one-quarter of the nation's 47 million uninsured are baby boomers who are heading into their most costly health care years.

As for Clinton, it's easy to see why she hasn't been specific about how her plan would punish people who ignore the mandate. Far better that that particular club be crafted by a bipartisan team in Congress. But it's hard to see how Clinton or Edwards can describe their plans as covering everyone. Mandates, as their track record has proven, fall far short of guaranteeing universal participation., dll/article?AID=/20071207/OPINION/712070 340/1027/OPINION01

by aiko 2007-12-07 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: This is a loser for Obama

I think so to dp. Health Care and IRAQ will be dominant issues in 2008. Barry has lost this one.

by lonnette33 2007-12-07 04:22AM | 0 recs
Re: This is a loser for Obama

I wonder if you'll be saying that in 30 days.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-12-07 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: This is a loser for Obama

You what Jeremiah, I am so tried of you and many other on this site trying to throw this crap in HRC's supporters faces. This is America and I am entitled to my opinion or am living in Russia under Vldamer Putin. I've alreay said Barry is the new frontrunner. I hope it pulls it out for your sake.

by lonnette33 2007-12-07 04:50AM | 0 recs

You are wrong if you think the Obama campaign has been doing nothing.  They have sent out a memo written by top economist Austan Goolsbee explaining their position and questioning the number not covered by the Obama plan.  The next big news on this battlefront will be the estimates of how many people are not covered by the Clinton and Edwards plans.  When the public realizes that the argument here is about 1% or less of the people and that mandated care does not equal universal coverage either, than it will become apparent that this has been a cheap attempt at mud-slinging via the Health Care debate.  The only mandate we should make sure is in place is the public mandate that the next President achieves Health Care reform in his first 4 years. Does Edwards and Clinton make that pledge?

by Piuma 2007-12-07 06:15AM | 0 recs


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