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Posted on October 31, 2007 at 10:46 AM

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The Democrats running for the presidential nomination got together in Philadelphia Tuesday for another debate. We’ve pulled highlights from the transcript that might be of interest here at our little intersection of the web. Topics included universal health care, drawing talented people to the health care field, cancer research and marijuana decriminalization. The breakdown is after the jump.

Hillary Clinton on her record working on health care issues:

Well, I think that anyone who’s looked at my record of 35 years fighting, for women and children and people who feel invisible and left out in this country, knows my record. I fought for expanded education and health care in Arkansas. I helped to bring health care to 6 million children while in the White House. And now, in the Senate, I’ve been standing up against the Republicans on everything from preventing them from privatizing Social Security to standing up against President Bush’s veto of children’s health.

Johns Edwards on Hillary Clinton:

And so the question I think that voters have to ask themselves is, do you believe that the candidate who’s raised the most money from Washington lobbyists, Democrat or Republican; the candidate who’s raised the most money from the health industry — drug companies, health insurance companies; the candidate who’s raised the most money from the defense industry, Republican or Democrat; who — and the answer to all those questions is that’s Senator Clinton — will she be the person who brings about the change in this country? You know, I — I believe in Santa Claus, I believe in the Tooth Fairy, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I really don’t.

Edwards responding to a prompt about money in politics:

I mean, we are here in Philadelphia where the Founding Fathers decided that the power, the sovereign power in this government should not reside with the rich and the powerful; it ought to reside with the people. And everybody in America can see what’s happening now. We don’t have universal health care because of drug companies, insurance companies and their lobbyists.

Dennis Kucinich talking about what makes him different:

And I’m the only one up here who stands for a not-for-profit health care system, which means that the insurance industry has enormous influence. In this race, why shouldn’t Democrats stand for universal single-payer not-for-profit, with 46 million Americans under- — uninsured and 50 million Americans underinsured?

Kucinich responding a to question about the super rich:

Right now, it’s all about a redistribution of the wealth upwards, Tim. You know, the tax system is about redistributing the wealth upwards. The health care system redistributes the wealth upwards. Our energy policies redistribute the wealth upwards. We have to have a president who is independent enough to be able to stand up to these interest groups and push the Democratic Congress to defend the American people by — by standing for the end of the war in Iraq; by standing for a universal, not-for-profit health care system; by standing for control of these oil companies, which are out of control; and finally, by standing for the Constitution.

Chris Dodd responding to a question from Brian Williams about how the country can continue to attract talented people to become doctors as “their ability to earn an income is going down”:

I believe there’s an answer to the medical malpractice issue, not the ones the Republicans have been proposing, but that’s one of the issues that people are concerned about and, as part of a larger health care plan, ought to be a part of that, as we consider universality and other elements here, to make sure that this profession becomes one where the cost of insurance, the cost of other items here are not going to be so excessive that you’d be discouraged from going in that direction.

Joe Biden responding to the same question:

You got to help them pay off their — they start off in the hole. They graduate and they have these gigantic bills, 40,000 bucks a year. They graduate hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. You got to give them the ability to write that off if they engage in public service, move into areas where they need doctors, number one.

Now, number two, you got to get the insurance company out of looking over their soldiers in everything. They know the decisions to make. They know what they should be doing, and they should be rewarded for their decisions.

Edwards responding to the same question:

What we need is a universal health care system that gets doctors out of the business of having to deal with insurance companies on a daily basis, to protect them from that.

But I want to talk about another piece of this, which is we have a nursing crisis in America, a serious nursing crisis. So what we need to do is expand our nursing schools, give scholarships to young people who are willing, when they go to nursing school, to commit to come out and go to the places that are underserved. We need to get rid of things like mandatory overtime. We need to have safer staff- to-patient ratios so that we can deal with this crisis for the men and women who actually provide a huge amount of the health care in this country.

Clinton on the same question:

Well, again, I agree with everything that has been said. In my proposal for the American Health Choices plan, we basically give the insurance companies an ultimatum. They have to get into the business of actually providing insurance instead of trying to avoid covering people. They cannot deny people coverage; they cannot exist — have a pre-existing condition which is not covered. That is one of the biggest problems that doctors face. They face this constant barrage of harassment and bureaucratization from the private insurance world.

We also need to clean up Medicare and Medicaid. They’re not as friendly as they need to be either.

Barack Obama, same question:

We need to deal with the insurance companies. On Medicare and Medicaid, the reimbursement system is not working the way it should. And by the way, instituting a universal health care system that emphasizes prevention will free up dollars that potentially then can go to reimbursing doctors a little bit more, but we’ve got to deal with the cost of medical education. We have to deal with college costs generally. And that’s why I’ve put forward proposals to get banks and middlemen out of the process and expand national service to encourage young people to go into these helping professions where we need a lot more (work ?).

Kucinich, same question:

I’m the co-author of the bill H.R. 676, that establishes Medicare for all.

As long as you have the private insurance companies involved in providing health services, people aren’t going to get care. Doctors know that the insurance companies want to substitute their judgment for their practice. Everyone knows that the insurance companies make money not providing health care.

I’m standing for Medicare for all. There is no one else on this stage who is ready to take on the insurance companies directly by saying, you know, we should join every other industrialized nation in the world by caring for our people, by having a not-for-profit health care system. Just because you say it’s universal doesn’t mean it’s not for profit. Even the insurance companies want a universal health care system.

Bill Richardson, same question about drawing talented people into health care:

Well, I have a specific proposal. Here it is. In exchange for two years of tuition paid by the government or loans, you give one year of national service to the country. This will attract more doctors and will enable students to afford a college education, when it’s taken them 7 years to pay for this.

Get rid of the student loan and bank agencies that are ripping off the system. Reestablish, on a general basis, doctor-patient relationship. Deal with Medicare reimbursement. Deal with ways that we also not forget health professionals, and that’s nurses. That’s others that, in our health care system, are not given the same opportunity.

Obama responding to a question about whether the school year in the US should be longer:

I do think that we have to have more instruction in the classroom. We’re going to have to pay for that, and the federal government has to help strapped local districts in order to make that happen.

We also have to — if we want to develop math and science curriculums, we’ve got to make math and science jobs attractive, which means increasing research grants. And this is something that is important not just for our competitiveness but also for our long-term national security. And when George Bush requests $196 billion for next year’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is seeing a flat-lining of investment in science research, that makes it more difficult for us to encourage our children to go into sciences.

Clinton responding to a question “from Lance Armstrong” asked by Brian Williams, “are you willing to be the president or are you willing to pledge to be the president who knocks cancer down from its status as number one killer of Americans under the age of 85?”:

I’m going to do everything I can to do that. I went to Lance Armstrong’s cancer symposium in Iowa and it was a very moving experience — not only people like us speaking but a lot of cancer survivors, a lot of researchers.

It’s just outrageous that under President Bush, the National Institutes of Health has been basically decreased in funding. We are on the brink of so many medical breakthroughs, and I will once again fund that research, get those applications processed, get those young researchers in those labs to know that we’re going to tackle cancer and try to do everything we can to drive its death rate down.

Edwards and Dodd on marijuana:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Dodd, you went on the Bill Marr show last month and said that you were for decriminalizing marijuana. Is there anyone here who disagrees with Senator Dodd in decriminalization marijuana? Senator Biden?

SEN. BIDEN (?): (Inaudible.)

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Edwards? Why?

MR. EDWARDS: Because I think it sends the wrong signal to young people. And I think the president of the United States has a responsibility to ensure that we’re sending the right signals to young people.

SEN. DODD: Can I respond, I mean just why I think it ought to be? We’re locking up too many people in our system here today. We’ve got mandatory minimum sentences that are filling our jails with people who don’t belong there. My idea is to decriminalize this, reduce that problem here. We’ve gone from 800,000 to 2 million people in our penal institutions in this country.

We’ve go to get a lot smarter about this issue than we are, and as president, I’d try and achieve that.

The New York Times has the full transcript.

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