DES MOINES, Iowa – Hillary Clinton asked for a second chance Monday to get health care right, insisting that this time she’d be able to get Congress and the country to provide health insurance to the nation’s uninsured.
“It’s long past time that Americans and the richest of all countries realize that health care is a right and not a privilege,” Clinton told a union meeting in Chicago on Monday.
“I intend to be the president who accomplishes that goal finally for our country,” she said later at a hospital in Des Moines, where she laid out the details of her plan.
The New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate would mandate that all Americans buy health insurance – much as states require drivers to have licenses.
She would let the uninsured buy into two existing government insurance programs or buy private insurance, offer them financial help in paying premiums and help small businesses cover their employees.
She would pay for the $110 billion-a-year price by raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 and by taxing companies that don’t insure their employees.
“If you’re one of tens of millions of Americans without coverage or if you don’t like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and you’ll get tax credits to help pay for it. If you like the plan you have, you can keep it,” she said.
Clinton, whose effort to enact universal health care during her husband’s administration failed in 1994, was seeking to flesh out her credentials on what has become a threshold issue for Democratic voters.
Her plan was similar to those already proposed by her most competitive rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina also would mandate that every American buy insurance. He would raise taxes on incomes above $200,000 to pay for it. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois would mandate coverage for children while offering expanded government help to uninsured adults.
Clinton and her rivals differ starkly from the Republican presidential candidates, however, none of whom would mandate coverage and all of whom flatly rule out raising taxes to pay for expanded care.
“Hillary-care continues to be bad medicine,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a cutting reference to the label given to her 1993-1994 proposal.