Craig Stoltz is a web consultant working in the health 2.0 space. He has previously served as health editor for the Washington Post and editorial director of Revolution Health. He blogs at Web 2.0 … Oh really?
Whenever candidates drop out of a race, the first question is, Who’s going to get the stuff?
News reports said that both Clinton’s and Obama’s people immediately starting picking John Edwards’ pockets–for delegates, supporters, fundraisers, gold teeth, etc.–while the former candidate’s body was
Rudy Giuliani gave it all to McCain immediately. But it’s hard to imagine that there hadn’t been
negotiations over the former mayor’s little stash of blood and treasure before the announcement was made.
But what I want to know is a bit more focused, if wonky: What happens to Edwards’ and Giuliani’s healthcare ideas now that they’re gone?
First, let’s see if they had any.
The most original “idea” of Edwards was his proposal that on a date certain following Inauguration Day, all members of the House, Senate and the administration would lose their health insurance until a bill providing for universal healthcare as good as theirs was signed into law.
It would never happen, of course. But the very suggestion generated an admirable image of revolutionary zeal, one that recalls Marx by way of Mel Brooks: Nothing for dinner at the Winter Palace until we have a satisfactory land redistribution policy, comrades! Aside from this, Edwards brought little to the healthcare table that other
Democrats aren’t serving: Employers should play (provide insurance to workers) or pay (for it); bring Big Pharma and Big Insurance to heel; pool the uninsured, offer them a menu of insurance options and subsidize as necessary. Cover the poor and the rest with public money.
He didn’t bring much new thinking to the healthcare problem either. His “plan” consisted largely of wagging a finger at Big Government and promising to unloose the Awesome Powers of the Free Market to spread insurance to all (or rather, to most, since Giuliani never mentioned universal coverage as even a desired outcome). His essential political mission regarding healthcare in the primaries was to make sure nobody knew he’d expanded the public healthcare rolls as New York mayor.
So the race of healthcare ideas appears to have lost little when these two contenders dropped out.
But it did lose something significant, if a bit harder to measure:
- Rudy Giuliani is a prostate cancer survivor.
- John Edwards’s wife is battling stage IV breast cancer.
It’s awful to think that a leader’s personal tragedy might be a motivator for healthcare reform. But as anyone who has dealt with a significant health challenge knows–especially if they’ve done so (unlike Giuliani or Edwards) uninsured or underinsured–the experience has a way of focusing one’s mind on a search for solutions.
Which, when you think about it, makes Edwards’ idea about denying healthcare to the powerful until they’ve provided it for others seem less batty or theatrical. More real. Even inspiring.
Maybe the Healthcare08 campaign really did lose something yesterday.