Barack Obama called healthcare a right last night while his Republican opponent called it a responsibility, but both candidates called it a top priority if elected to the White House.
The topic battled with broader concerns over the economy and national defense to get heard during the second of three debates between the Democratic presidential hopeful Obama and his opponent, John McCain.
While questions during the debate aimed at drawing differences between the two candidates health plans, the presidential hopefuls nevertheless agreed that health information technology would be central to each of their broad reform plans.
Obama said he would use electronic health records as a peg to help drive down everyday healthcare costs.
Were going to do it by making sure that we use information technology so that medical records are actually on computers instead of you filling forms out in triplicate when you go to the hospital, he said. That will reduce medical errors and reduce costs.
McCain agreed, saying that the use of health IT would help make the system more efficient and reduce medical errors.
It was a rare instance where the two agreed on a specific healthcare fix, though both acknowledged the importance behind reforming how Americans receive care.
Obama, who said that the healthcare system is broken and that it is bad not only for families, but its making our businesses less competitive, added that he would make healthcare reform his No. 2 priority if electedbehind energy independence. McCain said he would tackle it immediately and simultaneously with a host of other pressing issues.
We can attack healthcare and energy at the same time, McCain said. Were not rifle shots here. Were Americans. Im not going to tell the person without health insurance, Im sorry, youre going to have to wait.
The answer was in response to a question by debate moderator Tom Brokaw, who asked the candidates to list, in order, their top priorities: healthcare, entitlement reform or energy.