There are few issues as important as getting healthcare right. The U.S. is the richest nation in the world, yet too many hardworking families are facing skyrocketing healthcare costs. As a result, millions of families are forced to choose between putting food on the table and seeing a doctor, while some 47 million Americans have no insurance at all, leaving them one illness away from financial ruin. That isnt right.
Healthcare is quickly becoming the No. 1 cost for businesses, and many are faced with the terrible choice of creating jobs or providing healthcare for their employees. Yet this year we will spend an estimated $2.3 trillion on healthcare, far more than any other nation in the world.
How is it possible that a nation that spends so much on healthcare has so many of its citizens avoiding needed care because they cant afford it?
It is not because of a lack of will, a failure to understand the magnitude of the crisis or a dearth of possible solutions. Quite simply, it is because we have had leadership that has failed to bring people together to get things done.
Healthcare is a matter of economic security for families and a threat to American competitiveness in the global marketplace. We must act now to eradicate this threat and improve the quality of life for all Americans. With the right leadershipleadership that knows how to get resultswe can do just that.
In fact, with the bold leadership I offer, we can provide healthcare to every American and ensure that our businesses thrive and prosper. My plan provides universal, affordable coverage to every American citizen.
Throughout my 26 years in the Senate, Ive had a proven record of making affordable healthcare a reality for Americans. I know what must be done, and my healthcare plan is the only true universal planmainly because it calls for universal responsibility.
In a Dodd administration, affordable universal healthcare would be attainable within four years, and every American would have access to health insurance as affordable and high quality as that enjoyed by their member of Congress. My plan establishes a Universal HealthMart, a healthcare insurance market plan based on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that would provide all Americans with a variety of comprehensive plans to choose from. With the HealthMart, payment for coverage would be based on either the individuals or the business ability to pay. My plan would also pool risk and leverage the size of the pool to drive down costs.
Under my proposal, all employers would be required to provide insurance to their employees, either through their existing arrangements or by making a contribution to the HealthMart based on the number of workers. People in the individual market would automatically be enrolled in HealthMart, thus guaranteeing truly universal coverage.
In 2005, nearly 1 million full-time workers lost their health insurance as the percentage of uninsured working adults climbed from 18.5% to 20.5%. My healthcare plan is based on an individuals ability to pay and, most importantly, follows the individual, not the job. If someone moves across the country, they will still have access to their HealthMart insurance.
To those who balk at the idea of universal healthcare, citing its cost, I can say that healthcare would actually become more affordable under the Dodd plan. Experts say that it will cost 3% of current annual spending to insure an additional 15% of Americans, or $70 billion.
Most importantly, we would not need to raise taxes to pay for my plan. Merely by ending the Iraq war and redeploying our troops out of the country, money would be available to pay for startup costs for the Universal HealthMart. And, over time, contributions from individuals and employers would make the plan self-sustaining.
In fact, by broadening the insurance pool, the HealthMart would bring healthier and less risky individuals into the system, negating the costs incurred by sicker and older individuals. There will also be an increased focus on preventive care, because insurance companies would be forced to offer incentives for people to make personal choices to improve their health, such as dieting or quitting smoking.
Not only would my plan not require new taxes, but it also would be more affordable for individuals. In exchange for a larger market and more customers, the insurance industry would be forced to end price and coverage discrimination against individuals who need medical care, and premiums would be driven down across the board.
The plan that I have put forward is realistic, affordable, ambitious and truly universal. We need leadership now to make affordable, universal healthcare a reality for all Americans. The millions of families who are either uninsured or facing skyrocketing premiums cant afford another president who believes that healthcare is a privilege and not a right.
In the Senate, I have demonstrated that I have the leadership this country needs to accomplish truly universal, affordable healthcare, from fighting for seven years and through two presidential vetoes to get the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act passed to authoring the first federal child-care legislation since World War II, and Ive done it by bringing together people from both sides of the aisle.
As president, I will bring all the stakeholders to the table to get the job done. I have done this as a senator, and I will do this as your next president. In a Dodd administration, universal healthcare will be a reality.