Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Dean unveils proposal to insure more Americans with $88.5 billion plan http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/05/13/dean.healthcare.ap/
Providing health care for the uninsured will be a major campaign issue for many of the Democrats trying to oust President Bush next year. Dean, a physician who has a record of expanding health care coverage as governor of Vermont, sees himself as the best positioned to lead on the issue.
As governor, Dean focused on small expansions of the existing health care programs so that today 96 percent of Vermont children and 91 percent of adults are covered, and his presidential campaign is based on the same principle.
"This is a moral imperative. Here, in the richest and, most advanced country in the 21st century, it's unbelievably wrong for a sick child to go without seeing a doctor because her parents can't afford it," Dean said in a speech at Columbia University, where he took classes before going to medical school. "We have fallen 50 years behind in this country, behind the social standards of what we consider to be the civilized world."
Dean burst onto the national scene as an outspoken opponent of the U.S.-led war with Iraq and is often described as an anti-war candidate. But he says his campaign will be based on his ideas for providing health care to the uninsured.
Dean lost ground on the issue to Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, who announced last month that upon taking office he would push legislation requiring all employers to insure their workers. Gephardt would reimburse companies for 60 percent of their health care costs, and repeal President Bush's tax cuts to pay the $200 billion-plus annual cost.
On Tuesday, Dean, trying to take the lead on the health care issue, drew distinctions between his proposal and Gephardt's plan. Dean's plan is designed to expand coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans, about the same as Gephardt, for less than half the cost at $88.3 billion a year.
"This is the best health care proposal I've seen in terms of its ability to pass, its ability to cover people and its price tag," Dean said.
Dean also criticized Bush for failing to address the issue of insured Americans while passing tax cuts that have increased the deficit. He said he would repeal part of Bush's tax cuts to pay for the insurance and pledged that his presidency would start with balancing the budget.
"If we don't restore fiscal integrity to our government we will simply not have the dollars it takes to offer the health care coverage America needs," he said.
Lesson learned treating uninsured
Dean talked about how he and his wife, Judith Steinberg, worked together at a medical practice in Vermont and about his volunteer work at a community health center for people with no insurance. He said the lessons he learned treating those uninsured patients motivated him to get involved in politics.
Dean said he would provide health coverage to everyone up to age 25 by expanding existing government programs for low income families -- Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program or SCHIP.
He also would expand SCHIP to cover adults that earn up to 185 percent of the poverty level and allow other uninsured adults to buy into the a heath care plan identical to the one available to federal employees.
Dean would allow small businesses with less than 50 employees to buy into a subsidized health care system identical to the one for federal workers. And he would cut tax breaks for corporations that don't provide health insurance.
Other candidates in the nine-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination also plan to address the need to insure more Americans, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who will give his health care speech Thursday.
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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.