(APN) ATLANTA – Major 2008 Democratic candidates for President of the United States–including Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich, and Obama–have already begun addressing health care in their campaigns. However, US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is the only major declared candidate who advocates for a single-payer health care system so far in this race.
Only Kucinich and former US Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) have offered comprehensive plans, whereas Clinton and Obama haven’t offered more than vague ideas so far, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. APN focuses on Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich, and Obama in this article.
Edwards offers a complete, but complex universal health care proposal, which advocates say doesn’t do enough to cut insurance industry profits out of the equation.
In the 2004 race, by contrast, there were three candidates–Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, and Al Sharpton–endorsing single payer plans.
KUCINICH: SINGLE-PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE PLAN
"When people tell me that national health insurance is the right answer but is not politically feasible, I tell them that the opposite is true," Kucinich wrote in a statement on healthcare-now.org. "Passage is inevitable - it is only a matter of time."
Kucinich is also for the second year now a co-sponsor of HR 676 in Congress, a bill sponsored by US Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), to enact single-payer universal health care nationwide. The bill number is the same in the 110th Session as it was in the 109th.
The bill had 79 total cosponsors but failed to get out of Committee in the 109th Session, with new cosponsors joining on each month. Georgia’s US Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) [a centrist], John Lewis (D-GA), and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) were all co-sponsors.
Here’s how HR 676 works: The bill would expand the existing Medicare program so that every person living in the United States and U.S. territories could receive publicly financed, privately delivered health care. Each person would receive a United States National Health Insurance Card with ID number.
Services include inpatient and outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, long-term care, mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment.
Under this act, there will be no co-pays or deductibles. Everyone has their choice of physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics, and practices.
To fund the system, the act would repeal the Bush tax cuts for the highest income earners and establish a 5 percent health tax on the top 5 percent of income earners, a 10 percent tax on the top 1 percent of income earners, and a one-third of 1 percent transaction tax.
There would also be an employer and employee payroll tax of 4.75. Federal and state funding rates for existing health programs would remain unchanged.
"If you leave the halls of Congress, go to a barbershop or a bus station, everyone has a horror story," Joel Segal, Senior Legislative Assistant to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), said of the current health care system.
"Universal health care is inevitable," Segal added.