Dean Proposes His Version of Universal Health Care

May 2, 2003 ( - Former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean told a New York labor union he wants "everybody in" the US health care system.

Dean outlined his universal health care plan on Wednesday, saying it would bring the US in line with other industrialized nations. “We are the last industrialized country on the face of the Earth that does not have health insurance,” Dean said at the 1199 SEIU health and human services union, according to a Reuters report.

Dean, a medical doctor by trade, points to the state he formerly governed as an example for the rest of the nation. “In Vermont, everybody under age 18 has health insurance. If we can do that in a small rural state just 26th in income in the country, surely the world’s most powerful and wealthy society on the face of the Earth can join every other industrialized nation and bring health care to everybody,” he said, according to Reuters.

To accomplish this, Dean’s proposal calls for state governments to make more aggressive efforts to provide health care, including making everyone under the age of 25 eligible for Medicaid and giving prescription drug benefits to those over the age of 65. Further, h e calls for the government to help small businesses buy health insurance for their employees between 25 and 65.

The plan would place the burden of acute care for senior citizens on the federal government, making it easier for state governments to provide the rest, all of which he claims would be paid for in a tax increase with a price tag less than half of President Bush’s initial $726 billion over 10 years .

Universal health care has been a hot button topic for Democratic presidential contenders. A week ago, Richard Gephardt, unveiled a broad plan to the same union. Gephardt argued it would bolster the stumbling US economy and make health care coverage available to 41 million uninsured Americans by repealing tax cuts made by the current administration and Congress (See Gephardt Throws Down Healthcare Gauntlet ).