Hillary: Universal Health Care Campaign's Driving Force

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Hillary Clinton continued to campaign aggressively for the Democratic nomination hosting a health care event at Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, OR. Hillary believes that universal health care is a core Democratic principle. She has been fighting for guaranteed, affordable, high-quality health care for all Americans for almost twenty years, and it is one of the driving forces behind her run for the presidency today. From her time in Arkansas when she improved rural health care to her successful effort to help create the SCHIP Children's Health Insurance program, which now covers six million children, Hillary has the strength and experience to ensure that every man, woman and child in America has quality, affordable health care.

Hillary is the only candidate in the presidential race who has a universal health care plan and she criticized Sen. John McCain for proposing a plan that would put millions of Americans at risk for losing their health insurance.

"I'm in this race is because I believe in universal health care. I've been fighting to cover everyone - no exceptions, no excuses - as long as you've known me. Long before it was popular," said Clinton. "Senator McCain has proposed a radical plan that takes away the incentives for employers to provide insurance. That puts millions at risk of losing coverage. My plan says that if you like your coverage, nothing changes. Senator McCain can't make that pledge. And I commend Elizabeth Edwards for taking on the McCain health care plan and pointing out that it doesn't cover pre-existing conditions like breast cancer."

At the event, Hillary was reunited with 22-year old Jordan Kokich, who met Hillary 14 years ago. Born with a congenital heart defect, Jordan has had many problems with her health. At the time, while Jordan had insurance, the rest of her family did not. As a result of her health challenges, Jordan and her family worked with the community to create a new children's hospital. At age five, Jordan was an active participant in the campaign, called Kids Making Miracles, traveling all over Oregon to raise money for the new hospital. In 1993, when Jordan was seven years old, she underwent a kidney transplant operation with her father donating one of his kidneys. Prior to the operation, she was approached by the Make a Wish Foundation and Jordan made the wish to meet Hillary Clinton because of her work on health care. She finally met Hillary in February 1994.

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Additional participants at the event in Portland included Bridget Sheffler, a mother of two. While Bridget's husband is insured by his employer, Bridget and her children do not have coverage. Hillary was also joined by Jeannie Roberts, a single mom whose children have insurance through their father's employer, but also have significant disabilities that may eventually exceed the insurance coverage.

Hillary's plan will provide health care to all Americans, including the over half million adults and 114,000 children in Oregon, who do not have health insurance. Senator Obama's plan would leave out 220,000 Oregonians and 15 million people across the nation. The result of which would be an increase in health care costs since only a universal health care plan will maximize cost reductions. In addition, under Senator Obama's plan many Americans will continue to rely upon hospitals and other emergency care providers when they have health care needs.

Hillary Clinton has proposed the American Health Choices Plan, a plan to provide health care to every Oregonian and every American. Under Hillary's plan, those who like the health care plan they have, will be able to keep it. Those who do not have coverage and the millions more who are unsatisfied with the coverage they have will be able to choose from dozens of the same plans available to members of Congress or opt into a public plan option like Medicare. Individuals will receive tax credits to help pay their premiums, which will be capped at a reasonable proportion of one's income.

Also, insurance companies would no longer be able to deny coverage, drop someone, or jack up the premium because of a pre-existing condition or other risk factor. Insurers will have to offer and renew coverage to anyone who applies and pays their premium. And they will have to compete for business based on quality and price rather than the number of people for whom they can deny care. Insurance will also be portable: families will have the security of knowing that if they become ill or lose their jobs, they won't lose their coverage.

Hillary's plan will also provide tax credits to small businesses, which are the engine of job growth in the U.S. economy but have a harder time paying for health care. Her plan will provide a tax credit to small businesses that provide health care to their workers to help defray their coverage costs. This will make small businesses more competitive and help create good jobs with health benefits that will stay here in the U.S.

Hillary also has a long record of working with Oregon to improve the quality of and access to health care. In 1993, Hillary worked with then Congressman Wyden to help Oregon enact the "Oregon Health Plan," which included expanding Medicaid to the working poor. Hillary admired the thoughtful and innovative approach taken by the state and advocated for the plan, helping to deliver the federal waiver required for Oregon to move forward. As President, Hillary will build on that experience and her deep understanding of the important role states like Oregon can play in leading the way.

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