MARION, IA - Today, Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd unveiled his comprehensive health care plan at the home of Jerry Vuichard. Talking about skyrocketing health care insurance costs with members of the community at the Vuichards' kitchen table, Dodd outlined his plan to make affordable coverage available to all Americans by the end of his first term as President.

"The failed leadership and misplaced priorities of the last six years have put the health of our middle class at risk," said Dodd. "In order to address the health of America's middle class, we have to address soaring health care costs. That is why I am proposing a health care plan that provides for affordable, universal coverage."

Dodd's plan would provide affordable, universal coverage for all Americans within four years by establishing the Universal HealthMart - a health care insurance market place based on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP). Under Dodd's plan all employers would have to provide insurance to their employees either through the Universal HealthMart or through existing systems. Individuals would be automatically enrolled in the Universal HealthMart as well. Individuals and businesses would contribute to HealthMart based on their ability to pay, and individuals would have a choice of plans and coverage. By pooling coverage, Dodd's plan would spread risk and increase the bargaining power of the government to negotiate lower premiums. Premiums would be made further affordable by requiring insurance companies to provide incentives that promote the use of technology and preventive care as a condition of participation in the Universal HealthMart.

"Chris Dodd's proposal thoroughly achieves universal coverage without qualification," said health care policy expert and consultant Barbara Smith. Smith,  who was a lead staffer on health care to Rep. Jim McDermott, a member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee between 1993-1995, added, "It is the boldest and most pragmatic plan to date to achieve universal and affordable coverage while improving care. It provides for the comprehensive reform the country needs, while, at the same time, being achievable by building on the current system."

"By establishing the Universal HealthMart, individuals would be guaranteed affordable health care coverage," said Dodd. "America deserves a health care system that provides universal, affordable coverage through universal responsibility shared by employers, individuals, insurance companies and the government."

Dodd's Kitchen Table event was attended by middle class families, laborers and health care professionals who were all affected by America's health care crisis.

Under Chris Dodd's Plan for Affordable Health Care for All:

- All Americans will have quality, affordable health coverage within four years.

- Individuals and businesses will contribute based on their ability to pay.

- Premiums will be affordable based on leveraged negotiating power, spreading risk, reduced administrative costs, and incentives for technology and preventive care.

- Coverage will be portable - insurance purchased in the Universal HealthMart will follow individuals, not jobs.

The full plan can be read at

Dodd Health Plan Comparison to other Candidates click here