Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton inched closer Sunday to explaining how she would enforce her proposal that everyone have health insurance, but declined to specify — as she has throughout the campaign — how she would penalize those who refuse. Mrs. Clinton, who did not answer Senator Barack Obama’s question on the topic in a debate last Thursday, was pressed repeatedly to do so Sunday by George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program “This Week.” When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked a third time whether she would garnish people’s wages, Mrs. Clinton responded, “George, we will have an enforcement mechanism, whether it’s that or it’s some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments.” She then added that the focus on enforcement clouded a more important point, that her proposal to cover the uninsured was superior to Mr. Obama’s because she would mandate coverage for all, while he would require it only for children.
What might seem a mundane debate over health policy has taken on outsized importance in the approach to Tuesday’s voting because it is one of the few substantive differences between the two leading Democratic presidential candidates. . . . Polling has found that health care is a top concern of Democratic voters, and that they rank covering the uninsured as more important than reducing health costs or improving quality.