Clinton Campaign - Obama First Claims Health Plan Covers All Americans Before Admitting it Doesn't

In NH radio appearance, Obama tells voters his plan covers all Americans before acknowledging it doesn’t

CONCORD, NH— Appearing on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange this morning, Senator Obama first claimed that his health plan provides universal coverage before acknowledging later on in the interview that his plan lacks the central mechanism that would enable universal coverage. Earlier this week in Iowa, he also claimed his plan covers all Americans.

“There is a fundamental difference between Senators Obama and Clinton on health care,” said Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. “Senator Clinton’s health care plan covers every single American. Senator Obama’s does not. Any health care plan that leaves 15 million Americans uninsured cannot be considered universal. And that is a very big difference. So Senator Obama should be clear with the voters and admit that his plan will not cover millions of Americans. Americans are looking for a candidate with the strength and experience to ensure that every American has health care, and the willingness to fight for it. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.”

At the beginning of the interview, Obama told NHPR, referring to himself: “Here is how he would approach healthcare: to provide healthcare to everybody…”

But later in the interview, he acknowledged that his plan does not guarantee universal coverage and said: “So my emphasis is on making it affordable and if we make it affordable, which I intend to do, then the vast majority of people are going to then have health care coverage. Now, the argument they’ll make is there’s going to be maybe a handful of people who even if it’s affordable still won’t buy it. And my attitude is, you know what, I’m happy to consider a mandate once we get to affordability...”

Obama's health care plan would leave about 15 million Americans uninsured. "The best studies out there—by Urban Institute researchers, the RAND Corporation, and MIT economist Jonathan Gruber--suggest that, without a mandate, improving affordability will cover roughly one-third of the people who don't have coverage. Mandating that kids (but not adults) have coverage bumps that up to about a half. Obama's advisers think that, by really loading up on the subsidies—and making enrollment a lot easier by, for example, having an automatic enrollment with voluntary opt-out at your place of work--they can goose that up to two-thirds. But that's getting optimistic—and, even then, you still have around 15 million people who are uninsured ." [Jonathan Cohn, New Republic, 6/3/07 ]

See Also: CBS News Fact Check, 11/16/07