Clinton To Announce Universal Health Care Proposal In Iowa

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Universal Health Care Coverage by Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) on Monday plans to announce the details of her proposal to provide universal health insurance coverage at a hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, Long Island Newsday reports. According to individuals familiar with the proposal, the plan would:

  • Require that all U.S. residents obtain health insurance;
  • Require large employers to contribute towards coverage for employees and provide tax subsidies to small businesses to aid in the cost of providing coverage to workers;
  • Establish large "purchasing pools" to reduce the cost of individual health insurance and mandate that health insurers cannot deny coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions (Thrush, Long Island Newsday, 9/16);
  • Subsidize the cost of health insurance for lower-income residents (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 9/17); and
  • Allow residents without health insurance or with inadequate coverage to participate in a plan similar to Medicare or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (Fouhy, AP/Miami Herald, 9/17).

Clinton would fund the proposal in part with the elimination of tax cuts proposed by President Bush and approved by Congress for households with annual incomes of more than $250,000, individuals familiar with the proposal said (Long Island Newsday, 9/16). In May, Clinton announced a proposal to reduce health care costs during a speech at George Washington University, and she announced a plan to improve quality last month.

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Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman said that Clinton "starts off with an edge ... not because the voters have scrutinized the details of anyone's plans ... but just because they so closely associate her with the issue." The paper cites a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that Clinton is the candidate seen as best representing the views of Democrats on health care (Feldman, Christian Science Monitor, 9/17).

Jonathan Cohn, author of "Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis" and a fellow at the Demos network, said, "I don't think she's got a lot to prove on health care at this point, she's already got a tremendous amount of credibility on the issue. Clearly the lesson everyone has taken from 1994 is that she was too ambitious, so I think she's not going to be as bold or challenge people as much this time around."

Carol McDaid, a health care industry lobbyist said, "She first made a lot of these proposals in 1993, and they were regarded as revolutionary. Now it doesn't seem so revolutionary; it's in the mainstream" (Long Island Newsday, 9/16).

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Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said, "We're in a different place than we were," adding, "I think that both sides are going to have to be very, very careful. The sweet spot in the middle is trying to create a workable program that individuals who currently have coverage believe is the right direction and will not cause them to lose coverage" (AP/St. Petersburg Times, 9/16).

Health Care as Campaign Issue

According to the New York Times, the "debate over health care on the presidential campaign trail is increasingly ideological, as candidates woo their core constituents on the right and the left." Republican candidates have criticized the health care proposals of Democratic candidates as "nothing short of socialism," and Democratic candidates "are moving toward an increasingly populist attack on the big economic interests, like the insurance industry," the Times reports (Toner, New York Times, 9/16).

Altman said, "There's no question there will be a lot of mud-slinging and demagoguery" on the health care issues during the presidential campaign. He added, "Already, we've heard the Republicans calling the Democratic approach socialized medicine, and, for all we know, the Democrats will call the Republican approach Dickensian capitalism. Beneath all that, there are actually very different, sincerely held ideology and policy beliefs about which way health care should go" (Christian Science Monitor, 9/17).

SEIU Endorsement

In other election news, presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has the support of more members of the Service Employees International Union than any other candidate but does not have the support of the 60% of members required to receive the endorsement from the union, SEIU President Andy Stern said, Bloomberg reports. Stern said, "Edwards has done an awful lot with leaders and members in our union."

About 2,000 SEIU leaders on Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C., will hear speeches from most Democratic presidential candidates and take a straw poll to help determine who will receive the endorsement from the union (Chipman/Przybyla, Bloomberg, 9/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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