Both Senators Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton propose landmark reform to America’s health care quality, availability and affordability. Senator Obama, at the Democratic debate in Los Angeles on January 31, 2008 stated he felt his and Senator Clinton’s plans were 95% the same. Mrs. Clinton’s plan is a bit more complicated, but tends to offer a more broad-stroke reform than Senator Obama’s plan. The key difference in the two plans is that Senator Clinton’s plan is mandatory; Obama’s plan is not and allows for as many as 15 million uninsured to remain without coverage if they desire.
Mrs. Clinton indicated she has designed a health care reform plan that maximizes choice for people. If individuals or families are satisfied with their current level and cost of health insurance coverage, they may continue with their current plan. For those who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise not satisfied with their current coverage, she will open the Congressional health care coverage plan to them.
Senator Clinton’s plans lowers costs aggressively, and will provide subsidies and cap premiums so everyone can afford health insurance through the use of health care tax credits. Clinton’s plan will cost approximately $110 billion annually. Her plan to fund her health care reforms is to take President Bush’s temporary tax cuts set to expire on people making more than $250,000/year and put the money in tax subsidies.
Clinton’s plan will save money, she explained through modernization and efficiencies that can be obtained in the health care system. She also wants to eliminate tax “giveaways” to drug companies. Converting all medical records to electronic format will save $77 billion a year according to Mrs. Clinton, money that could go into prevention and be applied to chronic care management costs as well as expand access to services.
Senator Clinton indicated her work on health care reform began many years ago, at the beginning of her political career, nearly 35 years ago. She explained that there are three general approaches for a health care system: single payer system, mandated employer funding of plans for employees, or shared responsibility. The latter is the concept around which her current plan was developed.
Clinton pointed out she and Senator John Edwards had developed similar health care reform plans. She further pointed out that her work 10 years ago in the area of health care reform helped implement the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which ensures adequate health care for all children.
Affordable health care is, Mrs. Clinton said, a core Democratic value and imperative. The Senator believes health insurance must be regulated differently than it currently is controlled. There should be no one denied coverage, including those with pre-existing conditions, and health insurance companies should be required to compete on cost and quality of their programs.
Clinton does allow that the health insurance companies deserve to be part of the solution to fixing the current system. She also wants to give Medicare the right to negotiate to bring prices down. Finally, Clinton cautioned “We (Democrats) carry the banner of universal health care. The health insurance industry is very clever and well-funded.”
She stressed her plan is tested and the result of lessons learned throughout many years of experience in dealing with drug companies and health insurance companies alike with mixed success.