• Health

A Healthy Health Care Debate

What a difference a year makes. Just 12 short months ago, health care was nowhere on the political agenda, and pundits were confidently stating that, after the failure of the Clinton health plan a dozen years prior, Americans continued to be wary of serious action. Affordable, quality health care for all Americans was a pipe dream. Fast forward to Saturday morning, when leading presidential hopefuls gathered in Nevada for the “New Leadership on Health Careâ€? forum, jointly sponsored by Center for American Progress and the Service Employees International Union. The event didn’t create the kind of political fireworks that journalists crave. No Republican candidates showed up, unfortunately, and the Democrats who came—in the order they spoke, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel—were all civil and, to varying degrees, substantive. But the event did showcase something far more important than inter-campaign squabbles: Health care is the number one domestic policy issue going into the 2008 presidential race. To read more, please visit: I have received many questions about how freelancers would fare in the proposal I advocate in this piece (basically, extending a Medicare-like plan to all those without good workplace coverage). Indeed, I had a good exchange on this very blog about the issue. To say what I said then, freelancers are allowed to buy into the public plan on the same favorable terms that employers are. That is, if you’re a free lancer, you could buy public insurance for 6 percent of earnings, plus an income-related premium (maximum $70/month for individuals and $200/month for a family with children, at incomes above 300 percent of the federal poverty line) — apologies for getting technical here. Alternatively, you could show you have comparable coverage that you’ve obtained independently. None of the self-employed remain uninsured under this proposal, and for most 6 percent of earnings plus a modest premium is a bargain price for comprehensive insurance with free choice of providers.

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