Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mark Kennedy talks health care at CCHC event

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:59 AM |  

Yesterday I attended the Citizen’s Council on Health Care event “Setting a Bright Course for Health Care.” I’ll post more on the content later, but for now a quick observation.

The CCHC is an organization that believes in a free-market approach to health care, so predictably the presentations leaned in that direction, and while the audience of physicians, policy makers, and local think tank wonks was also biased in that direction, judging from questions and comments and conversations with various attendees, there was some sentiment for government intervention in health care among the those in attendance.

In addition to the scheduled speakers, all the major political candidates were invited to make brief remarks about their positions on health care. Predictably, the minor candidates turned out in force. Gov. Pawlenty’s spokesman Brian McClung stood in for the governor, who was in Washington yesterday, but aside from McClung and Mark Kennedy, none of the major players made an appearance or sent a representative.

Gubernatorial candidates Mike Hatch and Peter Hutchinson have made health care a front and center issue in their campaigns, yet neither showed nor sent a spokesperson. One might make an excuse that the audience was unfriendly to their points of view, but that rings a little shallow – these are the people Hatch and Hutchinson have to convince if they have any chance of pushing their government-centered healthcare initiatives.

Besides which, Green party candidate for governor Ken Pentel did show up and did pitch single-payer universal health care. He wasn’t booed off the stage, he handled challenging questions directly, didn’t back down from his position, and there were a few people that leaned to his position. He may not have won many votes, but he earned some respect.

Amy Klobuchar was also a no-show. Mark Kennedy was the biggest name to make an appearance. Kennedy did a good job delineating the basic difference between him and Klobuchar on health care – she favors heavy involvement of government in health care, Kennedy favors policies that put the emphasis in healthcare on the doctor-patient relationship and put patients in charge of their healthcare dollars.

When Kennedy talks policy and policy differences – instead of launching into personal attacks – he comes across as a very strong candidate. Ironically, by talking policy differences, he exposes more of Klobuchar’s flaws than when he intentionally tries to rip her.

In short, Kennedy demonstrated yesterday why he’s the candidate that is right on policy issues that have the most impact on Minnesotans.