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What healthcare ideas did Edwards and Giuliani leave behind?

StoltzCraig 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
still warm.

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.

John Edwards.
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.

Rudy Giuliani.
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.

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3 replies »

  1. The Health Cost Helper is an idea that I have come up with that allows individuals the ease and ability to aid one another with their hospital, and funeral bills. The idea is both hospital, and web based. My idea is to have donation machines (Health Cost Helpers) very similar to an ATM machine set up within hospitals and funeral homes. Patient visitors will be able to access a directory through The HCH and select a patient from the directory. The visitor will then be able to select an amount of money that they would like to donate to the patient’s hospital or funeral bill. The HCH will operate as any other self check out machine, accepting credit cards, debit cards, cash… After the transaction the visitor will be issued a receipt of their tax deductible donation.
    The hospital or funeral home will Issue the patient/family a card stating that either the visitors name or an anonymous donation was made to their hospital or funeral bill. The hospital would still issue the same bill to the patient’s insurance company, and the donations will go towards the remaining unpaid balance. The Health Cost Help website will be set up in similar fashion. Hospitals and funeral homes will have the opportunity to enroll in the website, where caring families and loved ones from afar will be able to use the directory to search for their enrolled hospital/funeral home, and find the patient that they wish to donate for. Payments will be accepted through the website, and routed to the hospital account. The same insurance billing process will be conducted by the hospital, and the donations will go towards the remaining balance. The patient account may remain within the directory for a time agreed upon by the hospital, patient, and The Helping Hand Company. Through The Health Cost Helper donations may also be made towards the hospital itself, and not for the individual patient. Receipts will be issued for all transactions. Doesn’t that seem a lot better than a card or flowers from the gift shop?
    Jason Vaughan

  2. jd, I hope Edwards can stay in the discussion and I think an Obama/Edwards ticket might work if enough broad minded and enthusiastic young voters who will actually vote do so, as well as a large black and spanish vote to counter the southern red state hate vote against a black president. There are a lot of non-voters that need health coverage but if they hear about a mandate that is not affordable enough they will stay home.
    Edwards keeps saying he will not accept #2 spot yet also says he wants to work for the good of the country. But any president who pushes for real healthcare reform will still have an uphill battle against entrenched corporate money/power/connections that will want to negate voters wishes.

  3. Craig, I’ve frequently heard it said that Edwards is largely responsible for injecting practical proposals for universal health care into the debate. His plan (a combination of new subsidies, a national government-run plan to compete with private insurers, individual mandates) may have put together ideas that had been raised in policy circles before, but they certainly hadn’t been put together in the platform of a major candidate from a major party. UHC in general hasn’t really been on the agenda in a campaign since 1992.
    Here’s another take on it.

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