Elizabeth Edwards at Health Journalism 2008

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards, gave the keynote address at the Saturday awards luncheon at Health Journalism 2008, the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Elizabeth and her husband formed the Wade Edwards Foundation after he was killed in a tragic car accident. Her personal breast cancer story made lots of news, and she says that when his campaign was active she spent lots of time criticizing her husbands’ Democratic opponents. So she spent her whole a major chunk of her speech attacking Sen. McCain, apparently on the grounds that her criticisms of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama were “old news.” How conveeeenient.

She attacked criticized Sen. McCain’s plan for allowing interstate sales of health insurance policies, suggesting that it will lead to a massive move of insurance companies to states with less-aggressive insurance regulation, such as Texas. She says universality is essential to achieving real cost savings, because of cost shifting, as the cost of uncompensated care is pushed onto those who have insurance. She didn’t mention the under-compensation problems from Medicare and Medicaid.

She says all of the candidates, including Sen. McCain, are supporting drug reimportation, patent reform to make generics available earlier and electronic medical records. She says these things, which are immensely popular, are what candidates tend to talk about, which obscures their real differences on the edges.

In response to a question, Mrs. Edwards said she supports Sen. Clinton’s plan because it is closest to her husband’s plan. She views it as significantly better than Sen. Obama’s.

Her speech was in essence a recruting speech for the Democratic ticket. “The onus is on you to make sure people know the differences between the candidates.” I agree with her to a point. I would just add that as journalists the onus is to not take her word as gospel, but to reflect other viewpoints as well.

I thought the panel yesterday was much better than this session, because it at least had representatives from across the spectrum speaking for themselves and challenging each other, instead of Mrs. Edwards giving a one-sided view.

I may post some video of her speech a little later, to give some of the flavor. Update: Here’s some video that gives a flavor for Mrs. Edwards’ presentation and her rationale:


Disclosure: John Edwards was my least favorite of the Democratic candidates (except maybe Dennis Kucinich), and I’m not supporting the others, either. John McCain wasn’t my first choice among the Republican candidates, but I will be supporting him in November. I also used to work for a Republican member of Congress. Neither he nor his colleagues had horns or a pointed tail.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

0 thoughts on “Elizabeth Edwards at Health Journalism 2008”

  1. I was at the conference, too, and thought Elizabeth Edwards’ comments were a bit rambling and imprecise. But I wasn’t surprised about the Dem talk; she is a politician, after all. And I was on a plane to ATL with Karl Rove; he definitely has horns and a pointy tail. I drew them myself.

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