Speed reading the December 13 Democratic debate



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Democratic party logoThe Democrats running for the presidential nomination got together in Iowa Thursday for their last debate before the caucuses. We’ve pulled highlights from the transcript that might be of interest here at our little intersection of the web. Topics included health care spending, biomedical research and torture. The breakdown is after the jump.

John Edwards on universal health care as part of an answer about how he would change the tax structure:

All these things are aimed at making sure that we have — that we strengthen the middle class, that we can pay for things like universal health care. But you can’t have universal health care and be honest with people unless you have a way to pay for it, and this is how I would pay for it.

Bill Richardson on the VA medical system:

We’ve got to take care of our veterans. The VA system needs guaranteed funding.

Our veterans coming back with mental health problems, with trauma are not properly being taken care of, and we need to recruit and retain to keep the volunteer Army going.

Hillary Clinton responding a question about whether she thinks too much of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs:

Well, it is a problem. It’s a particular problem with Medicare, where we have a very immediate set of challenges. It’s a longer-term problem with Social Security. We have to deal with both. Part of that is getting back to fiscal responsibility. Part of it is reforming government programs.

You know, Medicare is especially vulnerable because the costs are going up so quickly. That’s why we do need to give Medicare the right to negotiate for lower drug prices with the drug companies. That’s why we need to rein in the excess payments to the HMOs. They’re getting paid a thousand dollars more per patient than what your doctor would get just being on a personal relationship with you.

We’ve got to have a health care reform, like the one that I have proposed, the American Health Choices plan, that will bring costs down. I have very aggressive cost reduction measures. That will help Medicare.

Joe Biden on Medicare while following up on the same question:

Medicare — in fact, it’s cost. It’s not new benefits, it’s cost. And the whole idea there is that the combination of the $10 billion we’re overpaying HMOs a year, the combination of prescription drug costs being able to be negotiated by the federal government for Medicare, and the combination of modernizing the system so you deal with chronic disease and others, which it’s estimated we could save over $100 billion a year in Medicare — in Medicare — if we’d made all these modernizations and changes.

Barack Obama, following up on the same question, on Medicare:

Well, just to emphasize how important prevention and cost savings can be in the Medicare system, it’s estimated if we went back to the obesity rates that existed in 1980, that would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars. So many of the reforms that I’ve suggested in my health care plan will reduce costs not just for the overall system but also for Medicare.

But one thing I have to say, we are not going to make some of these changes unless we change how business is done in Washington. The reason that we can’t negotiate prescription drugs under the Medicare prescription drug plan is because the drug companies specifically sought and obtained a provision in that bill that prevented us from doing it.

Richardson on universal health care while following up on the same question:

I believe universal health care is a human right for every American, and one-third of all of our health care budget, $2.2 trillion, one-third of that goes to administration and bureaucracy; failure to have electronic records, that has to shift to direct care. But prevention is going to be the key.

You mentioned Medicare; 33 percent of Medicare costs are today related to diabetes. We got to have an elimination, as I did in New Mexico, of junk food in schools. We need to have mandatory phys ed. We have to be a country that does more research on stem cell research, on autism, on heart disease, on chronic diseases, on cancer. We spend $6 billion of cancer this year in one year. That’s two weeks of the Iraq war.

Clinton on stem cell research and SCHIP while answering a question about what she would do at the beginning of her administration:

I will review every executive order, rescind those that undermine the Constitution and betray the rule of law, and issue some, like for example not interfering with science and ending Bush’s war on science. I’ll ask the Congress to send me everything that Bush vetoed, like stem cell research and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and begin to prepare my legislative and budget proposals for the Congress. Because you have to move quickly in order to get off to a good start, and that’s what I intend to do.

Biden on torture:

… I would, in my inaugural address, make it clear to the world that we were abandoning the Bush policy with regard to torture, the Bush policy with regard to renditions, the Bush policy with regard to holding prisoners.

Richardson on torture:

And then what I would do is I would simply say to the American people, as your president I’m going to follow the Constitution of the United States. And that means bringing back habeas corpus, not using torture as a tool in our foreign policy, rejoining the Geneva Conventions.

The New York Times has a transcript of this debate.

Earlier on blog.bioethics.net:
+ Speed reading the December 12 Republican debate
+ Speed reading the December 4 Democratic debate
+ Speed reading the November 28 Republican debate
+ Speed reading the November 15 Democratic debate
+ Speed reading the October 30 Democratic debate
+ Speed reading the October 21 Republican debate
+ Speed reading the October 9 Republican debate

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