This is the ninth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday. The schedule and comment policy are available here.

This week’s forum is on a topic that seems to have not received as much attention lately as it did in the primaries: health care.

Here are summaries of the candidate’s positions, according to CNN’s Election Center:


Opposes federally mandated universal coverage. Would increase awareness and promote the use of existing children’s health insurance programs while expanding community health centers. Supports health care tax dividends for low-income Americans, medical malpractice reform, improving electronic record-keeping, expanding health savings accounts, and encouraging small businesses to band together to negotiate lower rates with health care providers.


Would create a national health insurance program for individuals who do not have employer-provided health care and who do not qualify for other existing federal programs. Allows individuals to choose between the new public insurance program or from among private insurance plans that meet certain coverage standards. Requires employers who do not provide health coverage for employees to pay into the national health insurance program. Does not mandate individual coverage for all Americans, but requires coverage for all children. Allows individuals below age 25 to be covered through their parents’ plans. Cost estimated between $50 billion and $65 billion, to be paid for by eliminating Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000.

Something else to keep in mind. A recent L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll (June 19-23) asked 1115 registered voters the question:

Obama says that he would ensure that every American has the opportunity to purchase affordable health insurance similar to the coverage enjoyed by members of Congress, regardless of pre-existing conditions, with government subsidies for those who cannot afford the premiums. Employers who don’t provide health insurance would be required to help fund these plans for individuals which would be portable across different jobs. McCain proposes giving tax credits of $2,500 for individuals or $5000 for a family to help those who do not have employer-based health insurance buy coverage on the private market. He would also increase the funding of the states’ high risk pools that assist people with pre-existing conditions. Based on what you know, do you prefer Obama’s plans or McCain’s plans?

The results: 53% said Obama’s, 26% said McCain’s, 11% said neither, and 10% said unsure. (Sampling error is +/- 3 points; source is CNN’s Election Center.) These figures are in keeping with just about every other poll I’ve seen, even before the primary and general elections, which shows that Americans clearly prefer some kind of national health care program.

What are your thoughts?

I’m especially curious: How do you your own values, including your religious beliefs, inform your thinking on this question?

Next week: Faith and Family Values

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