Democrats Differ on Health Care Solutions
Shelbi Thomas and
Iowa Presidential Politics.com
nine Democratic presidential candidates all agree that the
current health care system is flawed, and each of them has his
or her own view on how to reduce the number of Americans who
of the population, or nearly 41 million Americans, are without
health insurance, according to a recent report of the American
George W. Bush's proposed plan, 6 million uninsured Americans
would receive coverage through a government program granting
tax credits to low- and moderate-income citizens to buy insurance.
In comparison, each of the Democratic challengers currently proposes
plans ranging from providing coverage for 21 million of the uninsured
to universal coverage for all Americans.
nine Democratic candidates, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the
Rev. Al Sharpton and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun have proposed
the most expensive health care plans. Each supports a single-payer
plan, similar to Canada's, that would cover all Americans.
pay for the $1 trillion plan by repealing all of Bush's 2001
tax cuts and phasing in a 7 percent tax on all employers, which
would replace their current insurance premium costs.
privatizing just about everything," Kucinich issues coordinator
Julia Prange said. "The important thing to remember is that the
money is already there. This won't cost any extra money. He's
taking profit out and emphasizing the patient."
not released the details of his proposal but has said he supports
adding a constitutional amendment that would guarantee equal
access to health care.
a strategy and policy researcher for Moseley Braun, said, "Carol
supports a single-payer universal health care system based on
an already existing plan, the federal employees plan, which would
provide coverage to all Americans without increasing the cost
of health care."
health care plan would be paid for by repealing Bush's tax cuts
and raising income taxes, while eliminating employment taxes
such as the Medicare payroll tax.
Dick Gephardt, D- Mo., also supports an aggressive plan covering
all Americans at an estimated cost of $214 billion in the
His plan calls for repealing the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts.
Gephardt thinks that the federal government should guarantee
that every single American have access to quality health insurance
that can never be taken away. He's got the best plan to do it,"
said Bill Burton, Gephardt's Iowa press secretary. "It's the
biggest, it's the most expensive, but it's a big problem and
it needs a big solution."
Gov. Howard Dean, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Connecticut
Sen. Joe Lieberman each supports a health plan modeled after
the health benefits that federal employees receive. Their plans
would cost less and cover fewer Americans than the universal
health care plans.
At an estimated
cost of $88.3 billion per year, Dean plans to pay for his proposal
by repealing parts of the 2001 Bush tax cuts. His plan would
provide additional coverage for 30 million Americans.
Kerry's health care plan would cover 27 million Americans currently
without insurance at a cost of $72 billion a year for the first
five years. His plan focuses on providing more affordable coverage
to individuals and small businesses.
wants to provide health care regardless of whether people are
part of a group or not. He wants to guarantee insurance to all
citizens," said Sid Tickoo, an intern for Kerry's national campaign.
Lieberman's proposal would cover 32 million Americans at a cost
of $53.4 billion a year over the first five years. His plan emphasizes
coverage for children and young adults, as well as expanding opportunities
for individuals and small businesses.
"Emory University evaluated all the candidates' health care plans,
and mine would cover more people at a lower cost than the other
programs. We could try to do it all at once, but it can't happen
that way," Lieberman said in September at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's
"Hear It from the Heartland" forum in Cedar Rapids.
Plans proposed by Sen. John Edwards, D- N.C., and retired Gen.
Wesley Clark would, like Lieberman's plans, provide health insurance
to all uninsured children.
The signature piece
of (Edwards') plan is to provide coverage for every child. It will be affordable
and easy for parents to cover their children. His plan will cut
costs and increase coverage," said Tait Sye, Edwards' New Hampshire
deputy press secretary.
Edwards' health care proposal calls for rolling back Bush's tax
cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent, covering 21 million Americans
currently uninsured at a cost of $53 billion.
Clark proposes a plan to cover 32 million additional Americans,
including all children, at a cost of $695 billion over 10 years.
He would pay for his proposal by repealing the Bush tax cuts for
Iowa for Health Care, a group of more than 6,500 Iowans with an
interest in health care, has been working to provide voters with
the information they need to make their own informed decisions
about a candidate's health care plans.
According to Stephanie Mueller, communications director for Iowa
for Health Care, the group has established four criteria they believe
each health care plan should cover. The plans should be both medically
and cost effective; complete without gaps in coverage; similar
to the variety and choice that federal employees enjoy; and involve
the various levels of government.
"Based on these criteria, we're looking for the solution with
the greatest chance of success," she said.
Quotes from the candidates
Shelbi Thomas at [email protected] and Sara Westergaard at