Obama Ready To Unveil Universal Coverage Plan
Presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Tuesday in Iowa City, Iowa, plans to announce a proposal that would expand health insurance to all U.S. residents by the end of his first term, the Des Moines Register reports (Clayworth , Des Moines Register, 5/29).
In prepared comments, Obama said that the proposal would require all residents to obtain health insurance. Under the proposal, a National Health Insurance Exchange official would monitor health insurers and the plans that they offer.
Residents who cannot afford health insurance would pay for coverage on a sliding scale based on their annual incomes, and health insurers could not deny coverage to residents with pre-existing medical conditions.
The proposal also would include funds to improve technology in the health care industry through measures such as the implementation of an electronic health record system. In addition, the proposal would establish a reinsurance pool for catastrophic conditions and call for a focus on preventive care.
Obama did not provide specific details on the cost of the proposal, which he said would save residents an average of $2,500 annually. He said, "To help pay for this, we will ask all but the smallest businesses who don't make a meaningful contribution to the health coverage of their workers to do so to support this plan. And we also will repeal the temporary Bush tax cut for the wealthiest taxpayers" (Glover, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/29).
Obama said that he developed the proposal based on comments he received during his presidential campaign. The proposal can serve as a "framework around which we can begin negotiations and discussions," he said, adding, "Unless we have a movement where voters are saying to their congressman and their senators, 'Don't leave Washington without fixing the problem,' then the problem won't get fixed" (Clayworth , Des Moines Register, 5/29).
Obama said, "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 added, "Every year, candidates offer up detailed plans with great fanfare, only to see them crushed under the weight of Washington politics and drug and insurance lobbying once the campaign is over. Well, this cannot be one of those years" (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/29).
Obama on Monday during a Memorial Day service in Davenport, Iowa, called for improved mental health care for veterans, the Des Moines Register reports.
During a speech, Obama, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, outlined a proposal that would provide lifetime mental health care for veterans and their families (Clayworth , Des Moines Register, 5/29).
In other election news, the Los Angeles Times on Monday examined how presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) "has been methodically building his campaign around an issue long shunned by leading Democratic candidates: the plight of the poor and working class."
As part of a plan to end poverty in the U.S. in 30 years, Edwards has announced a proposal that would expand health insurance to all U.S. residents at a cost of $125 billion annually.
However, the "broader political challenge in championing a new war on poverty is that middle- and upper-class voters may not see it as relevant to their lives," the Times reports.
Edwards said, "This is a huge moral issue facing the country. I don't see in polls that it is a driving issue (for voters), but it is for me." He added, "What I am offering are very clear, bold policy initiatives that I think the country needs. I don't think small, incremental steps are enough" (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 5/28).