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Clinton's Universal Health Care Plan Includes Health Insurance Requirement

Armen Hareyan's picture

Universal Health Care Plan

Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton(D-N.Y.) on Monday announced the details of her proposal to expandhealth insurance to all U.S. residents during a speech in Des Moines,Iowa, the Washington Post reports (Bacon/Kornblut, Washington Post, 9/18). The proposal, called the American Health Choices Plan, would:

  • Require all residents to obtain health insurance;
  • Requirelarge employers to contribute toward the cost of health insurance foremployees and provide tax subsidies to small businesses to help coverthe cost of coverage for workers;
  • Provide tax breaks to ensure that health insurance premium payments do not exceed a certain percentage of household income;
  • Mandate that health insurers cannot deny coverage to applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions;
  • Allow residents without health insurance or with inadequate coverage to participate in a program similar to Medicare or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; and
  • Expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults without children (Thomma, McClatchy/Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/18).

Clintonestimated that the proposal would cost $110 billion annually and saidthat she would finance the plan in large part through the eliminationof tax cuts proposed by President Bush and approved by Congress forhouseholds with annual incomes of more than $250,000 (McAuliff, New York Daily News,9/18). According to Clinton, the proposal would expand health insuranceto all residents and improve "health care by lowering costs andimproving quality" (Carey, CQ HealthBeat,9/17). She said, "This is not government-run: There will be no newbureaucracy," adding, "You can keep the doctors you know and trust. Youcan keep the insurance you have, if you like that. But this planexpands personal choice and keeps costs down" (Healy/Toner, New York Times, 9/18).

Reaction, Comparison With 1993 Proposal

Andrei Cherny, a Democratic strategist, said, "What is unique to herand that no one has really done is this emphasis on choice," a focusthat she has taken to address concerns about her 1993 health careproposal (Washington Post, 9/18).

Stuart Altman, a health care economist at Brandeis University,said that the current proposal is "much less radical" than the 1993proposal, adding that "it's not fair at all to say it's a redo of theold plan" (New York Times, 9/18).

Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change, said, "This is designed to be less threatening to insurers," who led the effort to defeat the 1993 proposal (Wolf, USA Today, 9/18).

Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans,said, "The new Clinton plan includes important ideas to make coveragemore affordable," adding, "Unfortunately, some of the divisive rhetoricseems reminiscent of 1993" (Gosselin/Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 9/18).

Michael Donohue -- a spokesperson for the National Federation of Independent Businesses,which opposed the 1993 proposal -- said, "One of the standout featuresof this is it specifically looks to help small-business owners, andthat's a good thing" (Meckler/Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 9/18).

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation,said, "All of the Democratic candidates have now come out with bigplans. Those plans in the end are going to look more similar thandifferent to Democratic voters in the primaries" (Pearson/Dorning, Chicago Tribune, 9/18).

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Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured,said that the health care proposals of the Democratic presidentialcandidates have "a great deal of similarity" and "are fundamentallymoving toward universal coverage" (Bellantoni, Washington Times, 9/18).

Reaction From Democratic Candidates

Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards(D-N.C.), said of the Clinton proposal, "The cost of failure 14 yearsago isn't anybody's scars or political fortune, it's the millions ofAmericans who have now gone without health care for more than 14 yearsand the millions more still crushed by the costs. So I'm glad that,today, the architect of the 1993 plan has another care proposal -- andif imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I'm flattered. Butunless Senator Clinton's willing to acknowledge the truth about ourbroken government and the cost of health care reform, I'm afraidflattery will get us nowhere" (Bombardieri, Boston Globe, 9/18).

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama(D-Ill.) said, "I commend Senator Clinton for her health care proposal.It's similar to the one I put forth last spring, though my universalhealth care plan would go further in reducing the punishing cost ofhealth care than any other proposal that's been offered in thiscampaign." Obama added, "But the real key to passing any health carereform is the ability to bring people together in an open, transparentprocess that builds a broad consensus for change."

Presidential candidate Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said, "While (Clinton) talks about the political scars shebears, the personal scars borne by the American people are far greater.... We've known what the problems have been for nearly 15 years andwhat the solutions could be. What's been missing is leadership thatknows how to bring people together and get the job done" (Des Moines Register, 9/18).

Reaction From Republican Candidates

Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney(R) compared the Clinton proposal to health care systems in "Europeanbureaucracies." He said that "HillaryCare continues to be badmedicine," adding that "in her plan we have Washington-managed healthcare" (Lambro, Washington Times,9/18). Romney said, "I don't want to have the people who did theKatrina cleanup taking care of my health care" (Syeed, AP/Salt LakeCity Deseret Morning News, 9/17).

Presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) criticized the proposal as a "pretty clear march toward socialized medicine" (Anderson, AP/Florida Times-Union, 9/17). He said, "Government command and control only increases costs and decreases quality" (New York Daily News, 9/18).

KatieLevinson, communications director for the Giuliani campaign, in astatement said, "Senator Clinton's latest health scheme includes moregovernment mandates, expensive federal subsidies and more bigbureaucracy -- in short, a prescription for an increase in wait times,a decrease in patient care and tax hikes to pay for it all" (Washington Post, 9/18). The proposal is available online.

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.