I’m playing catch up here tonight, with a post about Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan.
I had hoped to get on the conference call this morning and listen to the speech and press briefing after, but this is a busy week for me (more on that in the next day or so). I have spent some time looking over the plan and reading various news pieces and blog posts, and I have to say, I think Hillary’s healthcare plan may be the ticket and I am not alone in saying it’s “very, very good.” It actually reminds me a lot of Kerry’s plan from ’04, that he re-introduced last July. I mentioned here last night I wanted to see a plan from the candidates that comes close to Kerry’s.
Under Clinton’s plan, “people could keep their existing coverage or pick new choices, such as an expanded version of the insurance available to federal employees or a new, Medicare-style public plan that would cost people less.”
Large businesses would be required to help pay for insurance for employees; small businesses and individuals would receive tax subsidies and credits to help purchase insurance.
“Today, as we strive for a new beginning to the 21st century, I believe that everyone — every man, woman and child — should have quality, affordable health care in America,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We can no longer tolerate the injustice of a system that shuts out nearly one in six Americans.”
In a speech at a hospital here, as she campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton said she would pay for the plan partially by ending Republican-backed tax cuts for people earning $250,000 or more, as well as by netting billions of dollars in savings by reorganizing the health care system. She also said she would press insurance companies and drug companies to focus on providing lower cost care — while at the same time, she said, she would ban insurance companies from turning down people for insurance because of health status or pre-existing health condition“Now I know that these proposals will not make me the insurance industry’s woman of the year, but I don’t think I’ve been in the running for that title since 1993,” Mrs. Clinton said. “The idea is not to put the health insurance industry out of business, but to help it find a better way to make a living.”
Clinton is not proposing any “new government bureaucracy” and her plan would not “strip people of their current health insurance — a fear that helped sink her 1993 and 1994 endeavor.”
Indeed, even the title of her new proposal — “the American Health Choices Plan” — underscored that this approach would aim to emphasize flexibility and options, and not government-directed coverage.
“The Congressional health care plan becomes the American health care plan,” Mrs. Clinton said.
“You’ll never again have to worry about finding affordable coverage,” she said. “Your coverage will be guaranteed. If you pay your premiums and follow the rules, your insurance company will be required to renew your coverage each year at a price you can afford.”
Clinton’s healthcare plan would give people “the option of buying into the Federal Employees Health Care System, which offers 100 different private plans, if they lack coverage or are dissatisfied with their current plan,” and the “government would subsidize premiums for some people with modest incomes, by limiting their costs to a certain percentage of their income.”
Here’s the plan in a nutshell from the Clinton campaign:
1. Offer New Coverage Choices for the Insured and Uninsured:
The American Health Choices Plan gives Americans the choice to preserve their existing coverage, while offering new choices to those with insurance, to the 47 million people in the United States without insurance, and the tens of millions more at risk of losing coverage.
· The Same Choice of Health Plan Options that Members of Congress Receive: Americans can keep their existing coverage or access the same menu of quality private insurance options that their Members of Congress receive through a new Health Choices Menu, established without any new bureaucracy as part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). In addition to the broad array of private options that Americans can choose from, they will be offered the choice of a public plan option similar to Medicare.
· A Guarantee of Quality Coverage: The new array of choices offered in the Menu will provide benefits at least as good as the typical plan offered to Members of Congress, which includes mental health parity and usually dental coverage.
2. Lower Premiums and Increase Security:
Americans who are satisfied with the coverage they have today can keep it, while benefiting from lower premiums and higher quality.
· Reducing Costs: By removing hidden taxes, stressing prevention and a focus on efficiency and modernization, the plan will improve quality and lower costs.
· Strengthening Security: The plan ensures that job loss or family illnesses will never lead to a loss of coverage or exorbitant costs.
· End to Unfair Health Insurance Discrimination: By creating a level-playing field of insurance rules across states and markets, the plan ensures that no American is denied coverage, refused renewal, unfairly priced out of the market, or forced to pay excessive insurance company premiums.
3. Promote Shared Responsibility:
Relying on consumers or the government alone to fix the system has unintended consequences, like scaled-back coverage or limited choices. This plan ensures that all who benefit from the system share in the responsibility to fix its shortcomings.
· Insurance and Drug Companies: insurance companies will end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or expectations of illness and ensure high value for every premium dollar; while drug companies will offer fair prices and accurate information.
· Individuals: will be responsible for getting and keeping insurance in a system where insurance is affordable and accessible.
· Providers: will work collaboratively with patients and businesses to deliver high-quality, affordable care.
· Employers: will help finance the system; large employers will be expected to provide health insurance or contribute to the cost of coverage; small businesses will receive a tax credit to continue or begin to offer coverage.
· Government: will ensure that health insurance is always affordable and never a crushing burden on any family and will implement reforms to improve quality and lower cost.
4. Ensure Affordable Health Coverage for All:
Senator Clinton’s plan will:
· Provide Tax Relief to Ensure Affordability: Working families will receive a refundable tax credit to help them afford high-quality health coverage.
· Limit Premium Payments to a Percentage of Income: The refundable tax credit will be designed to prevent premiums from exceeding a percentage of family income, while maintaining consumer price consciousness in choosing health plans.
· Create a New Small Business Tax Credit: To make it easier–not harder–for small businesses to create new jobs with health coverage, a new health care tax credit for small businesses will provide an incentive for job-based coverage.
· Strengthen Medicaid and SCHIP: The Plan will fix the holes in the safety net to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive affordable, quality care.
· Launch a Retiree Health Legacy Initiative: A new tax credit for qualifying private and public retiree health plans will offset a significant portion of catastrophic expenditures, so long as savings are dedicated to workers and competitiveness.
5. A Fiscally Responsible Plan that Honors our Priorities:
· Most Savings Come Through Lowering Spending Due to Quality and Modernization: Over half the savings come from the public savings generated from Hillary Clinton’s broader agenda to modernize the heath systems and reduce wasteful health spending.
· A Net Tax Cut for American Taxpayers: The plan offers tens of millions of Americans a new tax credit to make premiums affordable–which more than offsets the increased revenues from the Plan’s provisions to limit the employer tax exclusion for healthcare and discontinue portions of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000. Thus, the plan provides a net tax cut for American taxpayers.
· Making the Employer Tax Exclusion for Healthcare Fairer: The plan protects the current exclusion from taxes of employer-provided health premiums, but limits the exclusion for the high-end portion of very generous plans for those making over $250,000.
I am still on the outside looking in with regards to backing a candidate, but I want to note here that Hillary’s healthcare plan has impressed me, as she has impressed me on other issues in recent weeks. The Republican’s are all over Hillary’s new plan, with typical Rovian style attacks. I think it’s important to remember why Hillary is such a target for the right wing.
There’s a great post on The Left Coaster from eriposte that I hope our readers will take the time to read. Interestingly, eriposte points out the obvious, “significant implications of the fact that she is a very accomplished, intelligent, strong and capable woman who has long been in the midst of strong, aggressive, sometimes chauvinistic men in Congress and been a long time target of the vast Republican misinformation machine” and he goes on to say, “As progressives, it is our responsibility to destroy even implicit negative stereotypes about women and challenge people to go beyond such stereotypes in evaluating who is and who isn’t qualified to be President of the United States.”
I’m not making any endorsements here, I am truly still on the fence and plan to remain there for a while. But, I think eriposte makes some valid points in saying “It Takes A Woman – and A Village.” As a self-employed single mother, healthcare insurance has not been in the budget for sometime now. There are far too many people in this country going with out healthcare insurance and the numbers seem to rise daily. Something needs to shift. A new CBS poll shows that “Seventy-six percent say the fact that many Americans do not have health insurance is a very serious problem for the United States.” Damn straight it is a “very serious problem.” The new CBS poll also reveals:
Sixty-one percent of those who plan to vote in a Democratic primary express confidence in Clinton’s ability to make the right decisions about health care. Forty-two percent say they have confidence in Obama, while 39 percent say they have confidence in Edwards. Forty-nine percent say Clinton would do a better job on health care than her Democratic opponents.
Registered voters see Clinton’s experience with a failed health care proposal as an asset rather than a liability. Sixty-six percent of all voters, and 77 percent on Democratic primary voters, say her past experience will help her to reform health care if she becomes president. Clinton was appointed by her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, to chair a commission on health care reform in 1993. Just 25 percent of all voters, and 15 percent of Democratic primary voters, say that experience will hurt her.