Hillary Clinton's Universal Health Care Plan Panned

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) universal health care plan unveiled Monday in Iowa was panned by critics, one of whom said "any plan that tries to achieve universal coverage without addressing the rising costs of health care is bound to fail." Supporters, many in the Democratic Party, however, commended the plan.

Clinton's proposal, estimated to cost about $110 billion a year, would provide coverage for 47 million uninsured Americans through federal subsidies and tax hikes by rolling back some of President Bush's tax cuts.

"I believe everyone-every man, woman, and child-should have quality, affordable health care in America," said Clinton, adding that her plan is "not government-run."

But GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the senator's plan forces the uninsured into either Medicare or a health care plan used by federal employees.

"She fundamentally does not believe in markets and does not believe in states," the former Massachusetts governor said outside St. Vincent's hospital in New York.

"If you've seen the reports this morning on the latest version of Hillarycare, you'll see that version 2.0 is not likely to have any more success than 1.0," he said, referring to Clinton's 1994 failed attempt at universal health care.

Romney was criticized himself Monday for holding a press conference outside the Dt. Vincent's hospital without receiving permission in advance.

"As a non-profit organization, St. Vincent's Hospital does not become involved in political campaigns," the hospital said in a statement. "We find it unfortunate that Mr. Romney misappropriated the image and good will of St. Vincent's Hospital to further a political agenda.

"While St. Vincent's believes that there needs to be real discussion about healthcare reform and finding ways to provide coverage to the now 47 million Americans without health insurance, it is inappropriate for the hospital to be used for political gain."

Jill Jenkins, chief economist at the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding entry-level employment, said that "what Americans need most are reforms that cut down on the price of insurance, but Senator Clinton's approach is liable to do exactly the opposite."

"A meaningful step towards truly universal health insurance would be allowing Americans to avoid costly state-level mandates and make online purchases of insurance plans across state lines," said Jenkins. "And Americans should be allowed to purchase their own health insurance and deduct the cost at income-tax time."

Clinton's plan also apparently ends discrimination on pre-existing health conditions, expands Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

It is similar to a plan by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, which includes an "individual mandate," requiring everyone to have health insurance - just as most states require drivers to purchase auto insurance.

"This is not government run," said Clinton. "There will be no more bureaucracy. This plan expands personal choice and increases competition to keep costs down. These are new times and this is a new plan."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois commended Clinton on her proposal, noting, "It's similar to the one I put forth last spring, though my universal health care plan would go further in reducing the punishing cost of health care than any other proposal that's been offered in this campaign."

"But the real key to passing any health care reform is the ability to bring people together in an open, transparent process that builds a broad consensus for change," Obama said in a statement.

"That's how I was able to pass health care reform in Illinois that covered an additional 150,000 children and their parents, and that's how we'll prevent the drug and insurance industry from defeating our reform efforts like they did in 1994," he added.

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