McCain Unveils Health Care Plan

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 11, 2007; 8:43 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa -- John McCain proposed an overhaul of the nation's health care system Thursday, aiming to give people more control, encourage greater competition and lower costs.

The Republican presidential candidate's plan contrasts sharply with his Democratic rivals' proposals.

He focuses on expanding access for individuals and families but would not require people to carry health insurance. To varying degrees, Democrats want to make health coverage mandatory.

"The solution, my friends, isn't a one-size-fits-all, big-government takeover of health care," he told the Rotary Club of Des Moines. "It resides where every important social advance has always resided _ with the American people themselves, with well-informed American families making practical decisions to address their imperatives for better health and more secure prosperity."

He said of the Democrats, "They promise universal coverage, whatever its cost, and the massive tax increases, mandates and government regulation that it imposes."

His proposal emphasizes payment only for quality medical care, and he challenges doctors to do a better job managing care, hospitals to operate more efficiently, pharmaceutical companies to come up with better drugs and insurance companies to spend more on treatment and less on administrative costs.

McCain added that Americans must work to protect their own health and the health of their children, doing "everything we can to prevent expensive, chronic disease."

His plan calls for:

_Allowing people to buy health insurance nationwide instead of limiting them to in-state companies, and permitting people to buy insurance through any organization or association they choose as well as through their employers or directly from an insurance company.

_Providing tax credits of $2,500 to individuals and $5,000 to families as an incentive to help them buy insurance. All people would get the tax credit even if they get insurance through work or buy it on their own.

_Supporting different methods of delivering care, including walk-in clinics in retail outlets across the country, and developing routes for cheaper generic versions of drugs to enter the U.S. market, including allowing for safe importation of drugs.

Aides acknowledged the plan would take time to implement because of its scope. They billed it as a vision for change he would work toward if elected.

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