Saturday, March 24, 2007

SEIU Health Care Forum in Las Vegas today

SEIU is hosting a health care forum for the Democratic Presidential candidates this morning. In fact it is just about to start. You can watch a live video stream here.

Those who are scheduled to appear (in order of presentation) include: Senator John Edwards, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Christopher Dodd, Representative Dennis Kucinich, and Senator Mike Gravel.

Update: The forum has begun and Center for American Progress President and CEO, John Podesta is welcoming people to the forum and talking about the need for affordable healthcare. He's just introduced Andy Stern, President of SEIU.

Update 2: Since I didn't make it clear the first time, SEIU and the Center for American Progress are co-hosting this forum. All candidates, Demcratic and Republican were invited but only the 7 Democrats listed above decided to accept the invitation. Apparently, the Republicans don't like unions or the Center for American Progress, and they don't care if you have affordable health care. John Edwards is speaking now, Governor Richardson should be up next.

Update 3: If you click on the link for the live video feed, you are also able to submit a question to any of the candidates, and quesions will be taken from those of us following on the internet. If you have a good question, now is your chance to ask it. Also, I couldn't get the video feed to work running Firefox, so I'm using IE instead.

Edwards has concluded his opening statement and now is answering questions from the moderator and audience. I'm not going to blog what the other candidates say, only what Governor Richardson says.

Update 4: Governor Richardson has just taken the stage, thanking SEIU and CAP, and offering his and Mrs. Richardson's best wishes to John and Elizabeth Edwards. He says we should spend and invest more in cancer research, and invest more in stem cell research. Richardson is talking about being a governor and having to deal with the challenges of health care directly.

As President Richardson he says he would:

1. All Americans and All businesses should be able to ourchase the coverage that the President and Congres get.

2. Start a new initiative to allow all Americans 55 and older to get coverage through Medicare.

3. In exhange for the states covering more kids and families through Medicaid, the federal government would take care of seniors through Medicare.

4. Veterans - give vets the access to health care that they need, any time they want, anywhere. Would issue a "Heroes Health Card" to ensure they get the coverage they need.

Costs: Cooperative plan between employer businesses, state and federal government. Refundable tax credit for those Americans who need assistance based on income. Clamp down on credit card companies who have excessive interest rates, would put a cap on those rates because a lot of Americans pay for their health care by credit card.

Governor Richardson also talked about banning smoking in public places in New Mexico and getting rid of junk food in schools.

He's now taking questions.

Update 5: Question from David Slater in the audience, and he wants to know why the average American can't get the great health care that members of Congress, postal workers and other federal employees get?

Governor Richardson called this the cornerstone of his plan and agreed.

My question for Governor Richardson, submitted over the internet was asked, and it was how do you feel your experience as Governor of New Mexico has prepared you to take on the challenges of the rising cost of health care and achieve the goal of affordable health care coverage for all Americans?

Governor Richardson listed a bunch of accomplishments in New Mexico:

He has been able to insure all children under 5, and are working on insuring all working families.

He has attacked health care prevention issues aggresively, and thinks more should be done on that front.

He has instituted state-wide smoking ban in public places.

He would give incentives to companies who give their workers time to exercise or the opportunity to build healthier lifestyle.

Governor Richardson answered a couple more questions which I missed due to some e-mail coming in and trying to write up his answers to my question, so I'll try and post video here later. He's now left the stage.

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