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Press Release - The American Health Choices Plan: Ensuring Affordable, Quality Health Care for All Americans

September 17, 2007

Hillary Clinton unveiled the third part of her plan today to ensure that all Americans have affordable, quality health insurance. Building on her proposals to rein in costs and to insist on value and quality, her American Health Choices Plan will secure, simplify and ensure choice in health coverage for every American.

"My plan covers all Americans and improves health care by lowering costs and improving quality," Clinton said. "If you're one of the tens of millions of Americans without coverage or if you don't like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and you'll get tax credits to help pay for it. If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. It's a plan that works for America's families and America's businesses, while preserving consumer choices."

Clinton's plan covers every American - finally addressing the needs of the 47 million uninsured and the tens of millions of workers with coverage who fear they could be one pink slip away from losing their health coverage - with no overall increase in health spending or taxes. For those with health insurance, the plan builds on the current system to give businesses and their employees greater choice of health plans - including keeping the one they have - while lowering cost and improving quality.

"Senator Clinton's health care reform plan recognizes that managing and financing America's health care system is a shared responsibility between government, business and individuals," said Antonio Perez, Chairman and CEO of Kodak. "Her innovative plan has the potential to cover all Americans and improve the value we receive from our health care investment. We welcome Senator Clinton's contribution to this vital national discussion.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President Tom Buffenbarger said the plan would be welcomed by America's workers.

"We are counting on Hillary Clinton to deliver health care for all of America's families," Buffenbarger said. "Our negotiations often focus on who pays for what level of healthcare, and Senator Clinton's new plan offers American workers and manufacturers far greater choices and dramatically lower premiums."

Health experts said Clinton's plan could finally achieve universal health care through a system that works for all Americans.

"Hillary Clinton has crafted a thoughtful plan that builds on the existing system of private insurance and preserves consumer choices," said Dr. David Kessler, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and former Dean of the Yale School of Medicine. "This plan will offer affordable health care to the 47 million uninsured Americans without creating a new bureaucracy, and most importantly, it is achievable."

"No one in public life knows more about health care than Senator Clinton," said former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. "Her plan tells the American people, '˜I listened to your views,' and it tells Congress we need to offer our people what they have given us - affordable, high-quality health care. The plan takes the best of what we have learned in two decades and makes the seemingly impossible possible. Just as important, as we learn more about what works best, Americans gain immediately in their health care and their pocket books."

Hillary Clinton has been fighting for children and families for 35 years. In Arkansas, she helped bring health care to thousands of rural families. As First Lady, she fought for health care reform, and has the scars to show for it. But Hillary never gave up. She fought for and helped pass the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which provides health insurance to more than 6 million kids a year nationwide. And as Senator, she fought to expand SCHIP and get 9/11 first responders, veterans and military families the health care they need and deserve.

Now, Hillary has a plan to finally achieve universal health care for every American.

Specifically, her American Health Choices Plan will:

1. Offer New Coverage Choices for the Insured and Uninsured: The American Health Choices Plan gives Americans the choice to preserve their existing coverage, while offering new choices to those with insurance, to the 47 million people in the United States without insurance, and the tens of millions more at risk of losing coverage.

  • The Same Choice of Health Plan Options that Members of Congress Receive: Americans can keep their existing coverage or access the same menu of quality private insurance options that their Members of Congress receive through a new Health Choices Menu, established without any new bureaucracy as part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). In addition to the broad array of private options that Americans can choose from, they will be offered the choice of a public plan option similar to Medicare.
  • A Guarantee of Quality Coverage: The new array of choices offered in the Menu will provide benefits at least as good as the typical plan offered to Members of Congress, which includes mental health parity and usually dental coverage.

2. Lower Premiums and Increase Security: Americans who are satisfied with the coverage they have today can keep it, while benefiting from lower premiums and higher quality.

  • Reducing Costs: By removing hidden taxes, stressing prevention and a focus on efficiency and modernization, the plan will improve quality and lower costs.
  • Strengthening Security: The plan ensures that job loss or family illnesses will never lead to a loss of coverage or exorbitant costs.
  • End to Unfair Health Insurance Discrimination: By creating a level-playing field of insurance rules across states and markets, the plan ensures that no American is denied coverage, refused renewal, unfairly priced out of the market, or forced to pay excessive insurance company premiums.

3. Promote Shared Responsibility: Relying on consumers or the government alone to fix the system has unintended consequences, like scaled-back coverage or limited choices. This plan ensures that all who benefit from the system share in the responsibility to fix its shortcomings.

  • Insurance and Drug Companies: insurance companies will end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or expectations of illness and ensure high value for every premium dollar; while drug companies will offer fair prices and accurate information.
  • Individuals: will be responsible for getting and keeping insurance in a system where insurance is affordable and accessible.
  • Providers: will work collaboratively with patients and businesses to deliver high-quality, affordable care.
  • Employers: will help finance the system; large employers will be expected to provide health insurance or contribute to the cost of coverage; small businesses will receive a tax credit to continue or begin to offer coverage.
  • Government: will ensure that health insurance is always affordable and never a crushing burden on any family and will implement reforms to improve quality and lower cost.

4.Ensure Affordable Health Coverage for All: Senator Clinton's plan will:

  • Provide Tax Relief to Ensure Affordability: Working families will receive a refundable tax credit to help them afford high-quality health coverage.
  • Limit Premium Payments to a Percentage of Income: The refundable tax credit will be designed to prevent premiums from exceeding a percentage of family income, while maintaining consumer price consciousness in choosing health plans.
  • Create a New Small Business Tax Credit: To make it easier -not harder - for small businesses to create new jobs with health coverage, a new health care tax credit for small businesses will provide an incentive for job-based coverage.
  • Strengthen Medicaid and SCHIP: The Plan will fix the holes in the safety net to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive affordable, quality care.
  • Launch a Retiree Health Legacy Initiative: A new tax credit for qualifying private and public retiree health plans will offset a significant portion of catastrophic expenditures, so long as savings are dedicated to workers and competitiveness.

5. A Fiscally Responsible Plan that Honors our Priorities:

  • Most Savings Come Through Lowering Spending Due to Quality and Modernization: Over half the savings come from the public savings generated from Hillary Clinton's broader agenda to modernize the heath systems and reduce wasteful health spending.
  • A Net Tax Cut for American Taxpayers: The plan offers tens of millions of Americans a new tax credit to make premiums affordable—which more than offsets the increased revenues from the Plan's provisions to limit the employer tax exclusion for healthcare and discontinue portions of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000. Thus, the plan provides a net tax cut for American taxpayers.
  • Making the Employer Tax Exclusion for Healthcare Fairer: The plan protects the current exclusion from taxes of employer-provided health premiums, but limits the exclusion for the high-end portion of very generous plans for those making over $250,000.

To learn more about Hillary Clinton's universal health care plan, visit www.hillaryclinton.com/healthcare .

Hillary Clinton, Press Release - The American Health Choices Plan: Ensuring Affordable, Quality Health Care for All Americans Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/292652

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