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Universal health care

Oregon Senator proposes universal health care for all Americans

Friday, December 22, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: universal health care, health care system, health news

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(NewsTarget) The concept of universal health care that would cover every American citizen is again being proposed in the U.S. Senate, after a similar request was voted away over a decade ago.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., brought his vision for health care coverage that would leave no man, woman or child in America without health coverage, as several business and labor leaders on Wednesday hailed his proposal to provide health care coverage to all Americans through a pool of private insurance plans.

Over 12 years ago, the U.S. Congress rejected a Clinton administration plan for universal health care. However, Sen. Wyden says his plan is different in that it would provide affordable, private health care coverage for all Americans -- except those covered through Medicare or the military -- using no more money that the country spends on health care today under the current system that leaves millions uninsured.

Sen. Wyden said, "Employer-based coverage is melting away like a Popsicle on the sidewalk in August," and proposed a plan that would "guarantee health coverage for every American that is at least as good as members of Congress receive, and can never be taken away."

Sen. Wyden's plan -- called the "Healthy Americans Act" -- would provide universal coverage for no more money than the country spends on health insurance today, according to the Senator. He also drew support for his plan from groups that have frequently opposed each other -- including Andy Stern, international president of the Service Employees International Union, and Safeway Inc. CEO, Steve Burd.

Mr. Stern called employer-based health coverage a relic of an industrial economy that is long gone. He added that U.S. companies "cannot compete in a global economy when we put the price of health care on the cost of our products, and our competitor nations do not."

In addition, Sen. Wyden said his new plan would give American workers the ability to carry their health insurance from job to job without penalty. He added that more efficient administration and more promotion of competition for health care plans would allow greater coverage while costing no more than the government is paying today for health insurance coverage.

Sen. Wyden's universal health care plan would also require that employers "cash out" their existing health plans by terminating coverage and paying the amount saved directly to workers as increased wages, and then workers then could buy health insurance from a large pool of private plans with that same money.


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