A disputa presidencial americana no próximo ano terá como tema, assistência médica, mais especificamente a ampliação da cobertura restrita atual para o atendimento universal. Essa questão candente foi discutida com os candidatos potenciais à Casa Branca, mas somente os democratas compareceram. Todos concordam que é um imperativo do momento atual americano, mas poucos explicitam que haverá aumento de impostos. Essa questão é tão importante, que governos estaduais estão se adiantando à legislação federal. Hillary Clinton é que mais pode falar, afinal foi destroçada há doze anos quando no governo de seu marido tentou abordar o tema. Abaixo, trecho da reportagem do The New York Times.
LAS VEGAS, March 24 — Seven Democratic candidates for president promised Saturday to guarantee health insurance for all, but they disagreed over how to pay for it and how fast it could be achieved. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois said Saturday that he would develop a plan that would provide health care insurance for all by January 2013. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York assailed the health insurance industry and said she would prohibit insurers from denying coverage or charging much higher premiums to people with medical problems. John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, offered the most detailed plan for universal coverage, saying he would raise taxes to help pay the cost, which he estimated at $90 billion to $120 billion a year. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois appeared less conversant with the details of health policy and sometimes found himself on the defensive, trying to explain why he had yet to offer a detailed plan to cover all Americans. “The most important challenge is to build a political consensus around the need to solve this problem,” Mr. Obama said. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico offered a potpourri of ideas to achieve universal coverage, including tax credits to help people buy insurance and an option to let people ages 55 to 64 buy coverage through Medicare. To help pay for his proposals, Mr. Richardson said, he would “get out of Iraq” and redirect money from the military to health care. The candidates spoke at a forum on health care at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal advocacy group. Sponsors of the forum said they had also invited Republican candidates, but none attended. Health care is emerging as a top issue in the 2008 presidential race, as businesses join consumers in demanding action to curb costs and cover the uninsured. Nevada has gained new prominence in the political calendar. It will provide an early test of voter sentiment in a Sunbelt state with a large Hispanic population, and the results here could help create momentum for a Democratic candidate going into New Hampshire. Nevada Democrats are scheduled to hold presidential caucuses on Jan. 19 next year, five days after the Iowa caucuses and three days before the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Mrs. Clinton said she hoped to make health care “the No. 1 voting issue in the 2008 election.” Her remarks were reminiscent of a speech she gave to the service employees union in May 1993, when she attacked “price gouging, cost shifting and unconscionable profiteering” in health care and the insurance industry. On Saturday, she said that the failure of her proposal for universal coverage in 1994 made her more determined to achieve the goal now. “It also makes me understand what we are up against,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We have to modernize and reform the way we deliver health care. But we have to change the way we finance it. That’s going to mean taking money away from people who make out really well right now.” Mrs. Clinton complained that “insurance companies make money by spending a lot of money, and employing a lot of people, to avoid insuring you, and then if you’re insured, they try to avoid paying for the health care you receive.” To deal with such problems, Mrs. Clinton said, “we could require that every insurance company had to insure everybody, with no exclusion for pre-existing conditions.”