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News of the Day ... In Perspective

10/21/2007

Senator Clinton Says Country is Now Ready for Universal Coverage: $110 billion plan is her highest priority

This week democrat presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton defended her new health-care initiative, saying that she believes the country is ready for new effort to bring universal coverage to the uninsured.

But she said she has learned her lesson, and would not submit a massive detailed bill as was done in 1993 - 1994. "I think there is a sea change occurring," she told a health policy forum on Thursday, Oct. 18. "It is my highest priority." (AP, 10/19/2007) The Presidential Health Care Forum was sponsored by Families USA and the Federation of American Hospitals.

"We're going to have universal health care when I'm president - there's no doubt about that. We're going to get it done," she said while campaigning in Iowa.

The rhetoric used in this go-round is about "choice." It's called the "American Health Choices Plan." The first section, on the opening of FEHBP and the creation of a new public insurer, is titled, "Providing a Choice of Insurance Plans." The first bullet point assures readers that every American will be able to keep their current coverage if they so desire. But it then goes on to reveal that insurance would be mandatory, and that businesses would be required to subsidize plans.

Even with these mandates, she says it would not create a new government bureaucracy. "This is not government-run there will be no new bureaucracy," she promises.

Instead, she said that she would use the presidential "bully pulpit" to encourage healthy lifestyles.

Here are some features of her first-term plan:

  • Cost of $110 billion
  • Individual mandates for insurance (ala Massachusetts)
  • Businesses would be required to subsidize employee insurance
  • Community rating for insurance companies
  • Subsidies for low-income
  • Limitations on employer tax deductions for employee benefits

Critics on both side have weighed in. Those calling for extension of government involvement that it makes insurance mandatory without making it affordable.

Opponents said her "government-run health care plan" would be paid for through higher taxes on hardworking people. "Senator Clinton encourages people to lead healthy lifestyles, which will occur as they run from her plan to socialize medicine, just as they did in 1993," RNC spokesman Danny Diaz said.

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