Hillary Clinton’s Remarks Today on Health Care

Draws Key Contrasts with Obama Health Plan

Hillary Clinton delivered remarks today about her health care plan, continuing to define the contrasts between her plan and Senator Obama’s. For more information on the differences, please visit: http://facts.hillaryhub.com/archive/?id=4418 . The following is an excerpt from her speech:

“Among the Democrats, all of us except Senator Obama have universal health care that have put forth a plan. [Governor] Richardson, Senator Edwards, Senator Dodd. We’ve put forth universal health care plans because we know if we don’t cover everybody we’re going to leave millions and millions of people out. It’s a substantive and important difference because if you don’t start with the goal of covering every American, you will never get there.

“Here’s how my plan works: If you already have private insurance and you’re happy with it, nothing changes – you keep that insurance. But if you don’t have health insurance – or if you don’t like the insurance you have – you can choose from the wide variety of options that are available to members of Congress.

“Now all Americans will have a responsibility to get and keep health insurance. I believe when you make this the law of the land, Americans will follow it and will purchase health insurance – far more than if we don’t have that requirement. We’ll provide tax credits to ensure that people can afford it – and we’ll give tax credits to small businesses so that they can cover more of their employees.

“If you want to cover everyone, you have to make health care a shared responsibility. I know you need to have the willingness to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies and demand universal coverage. And that’s why I don’t understand why we have this difference on the Democratic side because, if anything, Democrats should stand for universal health care. That distinguishes us from the Republicans. The Republicans don’t believe in it, Democrats do and we should fight for it.

“And we’ll need a president with the experience and the strength to make that happen, otherwise we will be right back here in another 10 or 12 or 14 years, and we will still have 10’s of millions of people uninsured. And, in fact, our problems will be even worse because we would have lost more jobs because employers won’t be willing to provide insurance, they will move jobs offshore because they don’t want to have those benefits and we will not be either competitive or living up to our ideals. It is impossible to get universal health care if you don’t have a mandate. That is a key difference between my plan and Senator Obama’s plan. Now, when Senator Obama was a State Senator in Illinois, he helped to create a health care task force that looked into how to best cover everyone in Illinois with health insurance. They released their report earlier this year, and they made it very clear if you want to cover everyone, you need to require people to get health insurance. Otherwise, you will fail to cover 60-90% of the uninsured.

“Now there are a number of ways of doing this. One sensible step would be to use what’s called default enrollment. If you don’t make a choice, well, we set up a system where people are automatically enrolled when they come into contact with the health care system or with schools or colleges. You could also work with employers so that they automatically enroll people. The Congress has ideas about this and we’ll work to make sure that these mandates are enforceable.

“But what’s strange is that Senator Obama’s plan actually does have a mandate, but only for children; no requirement for adults. Now, I’ve worked on this issue a very long time. If you believe you can enforce a mandate on children that means you enforce the mandate on the parents of the children to enroll the children. So why would you leave out the parents of the children? Because what happens when you leave out the parents is that they’re less likely to get health care for their own children. You see, this is all connected. And I’m proud that Senator Edwards agrees with me, Senator Dodd agrees with me, Governor Richardson agrees with me Congressman Kucinich has a different approach, but he gets everyone covered to have universal health care.

“If we don’t get universal health care, then we will be betraying the Democratic Party’s principles. And it’s important that those who will caucus on January 3rd understand this difference. Senator Obama’s plan does not, and cannot, cover all Americans. He called his plan universal, then he called it “virtually universal,” but it is not either. When it comes to truth in labeling, it simply flunks the test.

“He’s been saying there’s no difference between our plans. But his plan would leave at least 15 million Americans uninsured – including more than 100,000 people right here in Iowa. So why don’t we just say everyone against the wall, don’t get insurance, we’re very sorry but we’re just not going to have a plan that covers you. Who’s going to choose who doesn’t get covered, who’s going to leave out 15 million, or 100,000 people in Iowa? That’s more than half the population of Des Moines. That’s a huge difference for those who get left out like the daughter of the woman that I met in Greenville. And it's a huge difference to me to leave 15 million people virtually invisible, because that is what we would do.

“Well, when I am president, there will be no invisible Americans and there will be no Americans without health care. That is one of my highest priorities, and I know it’s going to be a tough fight.”