Showdown in Austin

hillaryobama.jpgAUSTIN, Texas (CNN)It’s showdown time in Texas.

The Democratic race was very different when the candidates debated three weeks ago.

Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois will face off in a Democratic presidential debate in Austin Thursday.

The debate, to be held on the campus of the University of Texas, will air live on CNN.

If words are as important as candidate Obama asserts, hopefully the CNN mods will take advantage of this historic opportunity to focus less on the ‘horse-race’ and the campaign rhetoric, and more on finding out what the candidates really mean.

Betsy McCaughey, former Lt Gov of New York, has penned several interesting questions regarding one of the major issues in the Democratic primary — universal healthcare.

1) Sen. Clinton: When you pledge to cover every one of the 47 million uninsured, do you include recent and future newcomers to the United States, legal and illegal?

2) Sen. Obama: You have said that you will require all parents to have health insurance for their children. What will you do to enforce this law?

3) Sen. Clinton: a question about young adults. They think of themselves as invincible and are not apt to buy insurance. Your “mandate” would force them to do so, and more than that, to pay the same premium as middle aged people whose health care needs generally are much greater. You defend the one-price rule as “shared responsibility,” but isn’t it an unjust, hidden tax on the younger generation?

4) Sen. Obama: You have pledged to make health insurance “affordable.” Texas lawmakers have made insurance less affordable by requiring that every plan include in vitro fertilization, acupuncture, marriage counseling and some 50 other features. This is like passing a law saying that the only car you’re permitted to buy is a fully loaded luxury sedan.

Would you allow Texans (and all of us who live in states with similarly costly insurance requirements) to shop for cheaper insurance outside our own state?

5) Sen. Clinton: You promise that “everyone who is already insured will be able to keep the coverage they have today.” Yet your proposal says all health plans must cover services “experts deem necessary.”

About 4.5 million people have high-deductible insurance, because it costs less and allows them to make their own decisions about where and when to get medical care. But when Massachusetts passed mandatory health insurance, people with high-deductible plans were forced to switch to more expensive medical policies to meet that state’s definition of insurance.

Will that also happen under your proposal?

6) Sens. Obama and Clinton: Some doctors and hospitals are worried about your plans to make electronic record-keeping compulsory. What will be the penalty for a doctor who doesn’t get computerized?

7) Sens. Obama and Clinton: Both your proposals call for limits on the profit margins of insurance companies. Attacking the most unpopular industry in America may sound politically attractive, but if profit margins are legally capped, investors will flee to other industries and private insurance could become a thing of the past. That would leave only a government-run health-care system.

Do you believe the nation should take that risk?

TIME NEVER DIES

Sercan Ondem

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