Iranian president announces ‘RouhaniCare,’ insurance plan

BY Andy Swab  February 6, 2014 at 3:23 PM EDT
Photo by Davoud Ghahrdar/AFP/Getty Images

Iranians line up to receive food rations in Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his plans for a new health insurance program that would provide universal coverage on Wednesday. Photo by Davoud Ghahrdar/AFP/Getty Images

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday his plan to extend universal health insurance to all Iranians in a new program that the president himself referred to as RouhaniCare on Twitter. The Western-educated president, tweeted that his plan should cover an additional 5 million people.

Rouhani publicly apologized on state TV for troubles with the distribution of food rations to the poor, a rare expression of regret by an Iranian leader, the AP reported. The apology came after Rouhani’s administration extended direct food rations to the poor from 3 million to 17 million people, or nearly one-quarter of Iran’s total population. Lines for dwindling rations of eggs, cooking oil, chicken, rice and cheese have stretched for blocks in some cities with a wait time of more than three hours. Local media reported three Iranians died of exposure while waiting for rations in freezing temperatures.

On television, Rouhani also defended talks with U.S. and European leaders over Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva. The talks have been criticized by conservatives in Iran.

Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this post, we incorrectly stated that President Rouhani had “dubbed” his insurance plan “RouhaniCare,” however there were other sources which used the term prior to Rouhani’s tweet.