Health Care Reform and the Presidential Candidates

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2008

The editors asked Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, and Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, to describe their plans for reforming the U.S. health care system. Their statements follow. In order to explore their positions in greater depth, the Journal and the Harvard School of Public Health cosponsored a Perspective Roundtable on September 12, 2008, entitled “Health Care in the Next Administration” and featuring senior health policy advisors David Cutler for Senator Obama and Gail Wilensky for Senator McCain. A video of the symposium can be seen at

Access to Quality and Affordable Health Care for Every American (John McCain)
Americans deserve leadership for real health care reform that provides access to high-quality medical care and ends spiraling costs. But the road to reform does not lead through Washington and a hugely expensive, bureaucratic, government-controlled system. We have all tangled with the existing bureaucracy enough to know that such an approach would diminish, not improve, quality. Our challenge is to protect and improve the care that doctors, nurses, and hospitals deliver, while increasing the availability and affordability of health insurance for Americans. I believe we can do this in a simple but powerful way: restoring doctors and patients to the center of health care decisions.

Modern Health Care for All Americans (Barack Obama)
Doctors and other health care providers work in extraordinary times and have unrivaled abilities, but increasingly our health care system gets in the way of their sound medical judgment. Increasing uncompensated care loads, administrative rules, and insurers’ coverage decisions inappropriately influence the practice of medicine. Washington sends dictates but no help.

We need health care reform now. All Americans should have high-quality, affordable medical care that improves health and reduces the burdens on providers and families. Reform must emphasize prevention, not just treatment of the sick; reduce medical errors and malpractice claims; and make the practice of medicine rewarding again. I believe that by working together we can make these goals a reality.
Special Issue: Health Care
Source: Campaigns & Elections, October 2008
New Joint Center Report Examines 2008 President Candidates’ Health Care Platforms
Source: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 2008

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