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Presidential Candidate Clinton Unveils Health Care Plan

Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., unveiled her health care plan Monday. The plan would aim to insure all Americans. NewsHour health correspondent Susan Dentzer and a political reporter discuss Clinton's proposal.

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    Now, the rise of health care as an issue in the 2008 election. Today, it was Hillary Clinton's turn.

    Senator Hillary Clinton returned to the scene of her biggest political defeat today, unveiling a long-awaited universal health care plan.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: I believe everyone — every man, woman, and child — should have quality, affordable health care in America. Americans are impatient. We've seen that doing nothing makes the problem worse. We've gone from 39 million uninsured in 1994 to 47 million today.


    The price tag attached to Clinton's ambitious plan: at least $100 billion a year. Every American would be insured through a mix of public and private coverage. Employers would assume much of the burden, either by offering employees private insurance or contributing toward their coverage. Insurers would also not be allowed to deny coverage because of preexisting conditions.

    Hillary Clinton has been here before. In her husband's first presidential term, she authored a massive 1,300 page health care reform plan that failed.


    This is a crucial moment in the fight for health care reform in our nation.


    The proposal, dubbed Hillarycare by opponents, became a symbol of bureaucratic overreach that has dogged the New York senator ever since. Today, she said she still bears the scars from that losing fight.


    And perhaps more than anyone else, I know just how hard this fight will be, but that is why I'm running for president. Today's plan is simpler, yet still bold. Now, I know my Republican opponents will try to equate health care for all Americans with government-run health care. Well, don't let them fool us again. This is not government-run. There will be no new bureaucracies.


    Other candidates today were quick to criticize. Republican Mitt Romney, who signed a bill approving universal coverage in Massachusetts, posted a video on YouTube.

    FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), Massachusetts: In her plan, it's crafted by Washington, it should be crafted by the states. In her plan, we have government-Washington-managed health care. Instead, we should rely on the private markets to guide health care.


    Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the plan "includes more government mandates, expensive federal subsidies, and more big bureaucracy."

    Democrats weighed in, too. Illinois Senator Barack Obama reminded voters of the earlier Clinton plan, saying in a statement, "The real key to passing any health care reform is the ability to bring people together in an open, transparent process."

    And Democrat John Edwards said Senator Clinton's plan didn't go far enough. "The lesson Senator Clinton seems to have learned from her experience with health care is, if you can't beat them, join them."

    Early polls show that many voters consider health care the most important issue of the 2008 campaign.