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July 23 Debate Roundup: Universal Health Care

John Edwards' response regarding universal health care coverage struck a chord with the New Hampshire focus group, eliciting some of the highest positive reaction Edwards received the entire evening.


COOPER: Senator Edwards, does Senator Obama provide universal coverage?

EDWARDS: No, because the only way to provide universal coverage is to mandate that everyone be covered.

But I want to say, you know, I came out with a universal plan several months ago. A couple of months later, Senator Obama came out with a plan. He's made a very serious proposal, and I'm not casting aspersions on his plan. I think it's a very serious proposal. It just doesn't cover everybody. The only way to cover everybody is to mandate it.

And the stories we have just heard, from diabetes, to Alzheimer's, to cancer -- there are millions of people in this country who are suffering so badly. And just this past week -- in fact, you were with me on the third day -- I went on a three-day poverty tour in America.

The last day, I was with a man in western Virginia, in the Appalachian mountains -- 51 years old, three years younger than me.

EDWARDS: He'd been born with a severe cleft palate, and he was proud of the fact that someone had finally volunteered to correct it. He had not been able to talk -- I want to finish this. He had not been able to talk until it was fixed.

Here was the problem. It was fixed when he was 50 years old. For five decades, James Lowe (ph) lived in the richest nation on the planet not able to talk because he couldn't afford the procedure that would've allowed him to talk. When are we going to stand up and do something about this?

We have talked about it too long. We have got to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies that Barack just spoke about. It is the only way we're ever going to bring about real change. We should be outraged by these stories.

Hopefully Barack, given the gray 'health care cloud' that hangs over Hillary from her failed efforts in 1992-1994, will take the universal health care baton from Edwards and run with it.

The current SCHIP initiative working its way through Congress has the potential to garner enough bi-partisan support to override a Bush veto. If Obama were to use his charisma at this point to rally support around SCHIP he could be instrumental in making it a reality, today rather than tomorrow.

Am I being naive thinking Barack might decide to put his time and effort towards achieving a good result today in lieu of campaigning for tomorrow?

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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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