By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards yesterday issued a blueprint aimed at providing health-care coverage for all Americans and said he would raise taxes to help pay the roughly $100 billion annual bill.
The plan would require employers to provide health insurance for employees or pay a portion of their payroll into a fund that would help individuals buy their own insurance. Edwards said the plan would demand that people take responsibility for obtaining insurance, either from employers or on their own.
The federal government would provide tax credits to help underwrite the cost of insurance and, through the states, would establish state or regional health-care markets, or purchasing pools, that would offer competing health plans to individuals.
"This is the shared-responsibility approach to reforming our health-care system," Edwards said in an interview. "I think it's a dramatic change in the health-care system, the kind of transformation it needs. It's a truly universal system."
Edwards said the cost of the plan would be $90 billion to $120 billion once it is fully implemented. He said the major share of the cost could be paid for by eliminating President Bush's tax cuts for families with incomes of more than $200,000. More revenue could come through more aggressive efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to collect some taxes now going unpaid.
Edwards said the plan bears some resemblance to the new health-care program enacted in Massachusetts, but he said it would require employers that do not provide health insurance to pay a greater share of their revenue into a government fund to help individuals buy insurance.
He called the plan less complicated than that proposed by Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton when they were in the White House.