Edwards: Important Goverment Role, Consumers Will Decide

Bill Scher

Former Senator John Edwards kicked off the presidential forum by laying out his previously announced plan (which we’ve blogged about here, here, here and here.)

He stressed that his plan “covers all Americans” through “shared responsibilities.” He noted that “employers are required to either cover their employees or to pay into a fund” that will provide coverage.

And regarding our government’s role, Edwards said:

Government plays an important role, [setting] up health care markets all across America. And in each of those markets, if you’re the consumer, you can go in and choose what your health care plan will be.

Some of the choices are private insurers. And then one choice is a government plan, basically a Medicare-plus plan.

The idea is to determine whether Americans actually want a private insurer, or whether they’d rather have a government-run, Medicare-plus kind of single-payer plan. And we’ll find out over time which way people go.

He also emphasized cost containment. In response to a small businessman struggling with high costs, Edwards responded that through mandatory preventative care coverage, and competition between private insurers and government plans that have “extraordinarily low” administrative costs, those costs would “dramatically” drop.

But he did not flinch at addressing the “transitional” costs to a new system, saying it would cost $90 to $120 billion a year, which he would pay for by rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $200,000.

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