On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s speech on universal health care last week, Barack Obama promised he would provide health insurance to every American by the end of his first term as President today. Like Hillary, Obama supports seizing the Bush tax cuts to pay for his plan and forcing insurance providers to enroll high-risk clients.
"In the richest nation on Earth, it is simply not right that the skyrocketing profits of the drug and insurance industries are paid for by the skyrocketing premiums that come from the pockets of the American people," he said on the stump at the University of Iowa’s medical school in Iowa City.
Obama’s goal is to provide health care coverage for each of the 45 million Americans not enrolled in a plan today. He said that for those already covered, “the only thing that will change for you under this plan is that the amount of money you will spend on premiums will be less.” He projected his plan would save each American $2500 in health expenses annually.
To pay for those folded into his system Obama said he would roll back the Bush tax cuts. “We will ask all but the smallest businesses who don’t make a meaningful contribution today to the health coverage of their employees to do so by supporting this plan,” he said. “And we will allow the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.”
Each of the three leading Democrats running for their party’s nomination for President, Hillary Clinton, Obama and John Edwards, support repealing tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for universal healthcare.
After botching her husband’s single-payer health care plan in 1994, Mrs. Clinton tells voters now that she can be trusted to head up such a program again because, in her own words, “I have the scars to show from it.”
Obama also proposed creating a watchdog group called “National Health Insurance Exchange” to regulate insurance companies. Obama said insurance companies should be forbidden from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. He called this new practice “guaranteed eligibility.”
Similarly, in a May 24 speech Clinton said she would “end the practice of insurance company cherry-picking once and for all by allowing anyone who wants to join a plan to do so and prohibiting insurance companies from carving out benefits or charging higher rates to people with health problems.”
Chief Economist for the free-market group FreedomWorks, Dr. Wayne T. Brough, warned that “anyone tinkering with this system should exercise great caution. Many of these reforms were debated, and ultimately rejected, when President Clinton pushed to expand the federal government’s control over health care.”