Sunday, February 03, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Mandated Health Care Insurance

Today, on Barack Obama's "Know the Facts" web page, he claims that Hillary Clinton refuses to answer how she will enforce a mandated health insurance system. One reference is to her appearance today on ABC's This Week. ABC has posted a transcript of the interview by George Stephanopoulos so I decided to check for myself. My conclusion is that she does in fact answer the question by saying she would force everyone, even through wage garnishing if necessary. However, she squirms and wriggles around the question and tries not to say that too directly. She apparently does not want to admit that she is planning mandatory enforcement. Forcing people will not be well received by many so she clearly tries to emphasize her more positive message about affordable health care.

Here are some excerpts that relate exactly to the question of how the
mandates will happen. [I have added some comments in red.]

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... You didn't get the chance to answer that question in the debate.What is the answer to those two questions? Will you have fines for people who don't buy health care, don't apply -- don't go by the mandate? Will you garnish their wages? [Note: Very specific questions.]

CLINTON: George, let's put this in context, because this is a big difference between us. I think universal health care is a core Democratic value and a moral principle, and I'm absolutely going to do everything I can to achieve that. You know, if you look at my plan, it's a misstatement to say that people won't be able to afford it, because I have a very detailed approach about giving people health care tax credits, limiting -- I'm the only person who does -- limiting the percentage of what you would have to pay for a premium to a low percent of your income. ... [She goes on for another 247 words but the only answer I am seeing so far is just that people should be able to afford it, but nothing about enforcement.]

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me interrupt you there, because the other night at the debate, you said that you and Senator Edwards bit the bullet on this question...

CLINTON: That's right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... of mandates, and Senator Edwards was quite clear in his plan. He said if people still didn't buy the insurance, their wages would be garnished. And I still haven't heard, if people can afford it and they don't buy the insurance, will their wages be garnished under your plan? Will they have to pay fines? [Now she is being asked the same specific questions again.]

CLINTON: Well, they don't have to pay fines, George. We want them to have insurance. We want it to be affordable. [Same answer about affordability but not answering the enforcement question.] And what I have said is that there are a number of ways of doing that. Now, there's not just one way of getting to that. [She goes on for another 223 words but no answer to the question. She talks of the importance of universal health care and accuses Obama of being misleading.]

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, yet, Senator Clinton, we actually have that mailing and let me show our viewers quickly what you were talking about, because you referred to it. It says that Hillary's plan will -- excuse me, let me read this again -- "forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can't afford it. You pay a penalty if you don't." And I want to bear down on this question one more time, because they're claiming this issue of the penalty. And a lot of independent health care experts, many who worked with you in 1994, say that without these enforcement mechanisms, you simply can't get to universal coverage, you can't claim to have universal coverage, so there's no difference between your plan and Senator Obama's. And, I mean, you talked about automatic enrollment. Will you garnish wages of people who don't comply, don't buy the insurance? [Here is the question a third time!]

CLINTON: George, we will have an enforcement mechanism. [Here is the first inkling of an answer.] Whether it's that or it's some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments. [But, she does not want to commit to answering specifically.] But you're missing, I believe, the key point. If you don't start with universal health care, ... And the reason why I think there are a number of mechanisms, going after people's wages, [she answers here to some extent] automatic enrollment, when you are at the place of employment, you will be automatically enrolled, whatever the mechanism is [but not willing to commit fully to what that mechanism will be] is not as important as, number one, the fundamental commitment to universal health care, the appreciation that, with health care tax credits and with a premium cap, it will be affordable for everyone. [back to the affordability point] ... There will be mechanisms to enable everyone to afford it. ... [again she is using the positive affordability angle while deemphasizing the negative enforcement issues like garnishing wages.]



Sweating Through fog said...

She probably didn't intend to say "go after wages" - because it will be a big loser for her on Tuesday. A bad slip on her part. Bill would never have used those words, and made the mistake of being inadvertently honest.

Anonymous said...

1) Will the IRS enforce her mandated health care via penalties and fines?
2) Will everyone pay the same price for mandated health care?
3) If not, what are the sliding scale figures for the health care plan and the enforcement fines?
4) How much interest will the IRS charge for late fees?
5) Will the health care rates and fines be capped? Or will they start off low to get buy in and rise every year.
6) Will the IRS fines differ for repeat offenders?
7) How will they get the millions of undocumented workers pay into this system?
8) How far will she go to enforce her plan? What’s the worst case scenario for offenders?
9)What will happen if an undocumented worker seeks medical help and doesn’t have insurance? Will they still receive care? Will they receive a fine?

Hillary has been working on this plan for 15 years but refuses to provide any details about how she will mandate it. National Bureau of Economic states penalties must be strong to mandate the plan.

stephen said...

Health care is a big concern these days and mandated Health care is going to make things more worst