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Universal Healthcare Closer to Reality for U.S.

Jan 30, 2007

President Bush and candidates for President are all on board to push for Universal Healthcare. The 42 million people without health insurance, including those with diabetes may now have some hope. President Bush earlier this week announced two health care proposals, including one that would offer a federal tax deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families who obtain health insurance on their own or through an employer, regardless of the cost of the coverage. The proposal would for the first time levy a tax on the value of employer-sponsored health insurance in some cases. Currently, most employees are not taxed on the value of their employer-sponsored health insurance. Under the proposal, individuals and families with employer-sponsored health insurance plans worth more than the proposed allowable deductions would pay taxes on the difference. The deduction would be available to all individuals and families who purchase health insurance, regardless of the value of their policies or whether they itemize deductions on their tax returns. For U.S. residents who receive employer-based health insurance, the deduction would be offset by the cost of their coverage.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a 2008 presidential candidate, on Thursday said all U.S. residents should have health care coverage within the next six years. Obama was "previewing what is shaping up to be a theme of the 2008 Democratic primary."


Rival Democratic presidential candidates former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) also support universal health care. At a Families USA conference, Obama said, "I am absolutely determined by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country". He said the U.S. must consider whether "the employer-based system of health care itself is still the best for providing insurance to all Americans" at a time "when businesses are facing increased competition and workers rarely stay with one company throughout their entire lives." He added, "I think there are a variety of ways" to achieve universal coverage, "but I think that one of the things that we’re going to have to look at is portability. I don’t think we immediately replace the employer-based system, but I think that setting up pools that provide a capacity for more and more people to not be dependent on an employer for their health care is important."

Obama did not introduce a universal health plan, but said after his speech that he would be working to develop one "over the next several months." Obama said broad bipartisan interest in the issue has "effectively ended the debate over whether or not we should have universal health care in this country." According to CQ HealthBeat, Obama’s speech appeared to give him "a rhetorical jump on [Rodham] Clinton on the health care issue" by saying universal health care should become law no later than 2012. Rodham Clinton has not given a timetable for her own plan (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/25).


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