Edwards calls for universal health care coverage
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called for a tax increase to ensure health care coverage for all as part of a plan that also would require businesses to provide insurance.
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called for a tax increase to ensure health care coverage for all as part of a plan that also would require businesses to provide insurance.
The 2004 vice presidential nominee said the tax increase would pay for the plan's cost of up to $120 billion a year.
"The time has come for a universal health care reform that covers everyone, cuts costs, and provides better care," said the plan that Edwards posted Monday on his Web site.
Edwards' plan is the first detailed health care plan to be offered by a Democrat seeking the White House in 2008. Several others are expected to offer competing ideas to help at least some of the 47 million people who are uninsured.
The issue is new for Edwards, who proposed to cover children in his 2004 campaign but didn't have a broader planned for adult uninsured. The idea is clearly appealing to Democratic activists who cheered Edwards Friday when he called on them to stand up for the "silent victims of a health care system that's dysfunctional and getting worse every single day."
"Can we finally say we stand, now and forever, for every single man, woman and child in America having health care, universal health care?" Edwards said before a speech at the Democratic National Committee. "We will leave no one behind. We will not allowed a single family or a single child in America to not have health care coverage and to not have the health care that they need and deserve."
Edwards plan aims to have universal coverage by 2012. A Democratic rival, Barack Obama, also has said that is his goal, but the Illinois senator has yet to provide more specifics about how he would get there.
Edwards plan would first require employers to cover their workers or help pay for their insurance. He would try to clamp down on rising costs with tax credits to help lower and middle income taxpayers pay for their plans, expanded government programs like Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and changes to insurance laws to require coverage for all regardless of pre-existing conditions or other factors. And he would create nonprofit regional purchasing pools so that consumers would have a way to buy an affordable and high quality plan.
Finally, he would require every citizen to get coverage, unless they have financial or religious exemptions.
Edwards said his plan will make it cheaper for families and businesses to have insurance coverage while providing health care to the uninsured.
The plan would free up money for health care coverage by abolishing President Bush's tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year and by having the government collect more back taxes, Edwards said.
Edwards said health care insurance premiums have risen 90 percent over the past decade.
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