Lieberman Unveils Health Reform Plan

September 2, 2003 ( - As have many of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senator Joseph Lieberman unveiled a health-care reform proposal that would cover all children, expand coverage to the uninsured and guarantee health care in the event of job loss.

Lieberman, (D-Connecticut), who called fixing the health care system “one of the toughest challenges of our time,” accused President Bush of ignoring the whole situation, according to a Reuters report.

“George W. Bush didn’t create these problems, but he has turned his back on them,” Lieberman said in a speech at a suburban Maryland elementary school, according to the Reuters story. Lieberman said his plan would cost an average of $54 billion a year over the first five years, making it cheaper and more efficient than the plans offered by his rivals.

“We will spend less money for each newly insured person than any other presidential candidate’s plan,” said Lieberman, who has criticized the health plans offered by Representative Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri) (See Gephardt Throws Down Healthcare Gauntlet ), US Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (See Dean Proposes His Version of Universal Health Care )as outdated and big-spending solutions.

At the heart of the Lieberman plan is a health care program for children called “MediKids,” which would use a network of federally coordinated private insurance plans modeled on the plan used by members of the US Congress. It also would create a national network of school-based health centers, focusing on rural and other high-need communities.

If Lieberman had his way, the new health care system would also create an insurance purchasing pool for adults who have difficulty getting affordable insurance, such as the self-employed and unemployed, part-time workers and small business employees. Lieberman said his plan also would provide a combination of tax credits, subsidies and health care extensions to cover workers who lose their job.

He estimated it would provide coverage to 31 million of the estimated 41 million uninsured Americans, with the cost borne by elimination of Bush’s tax cuts for the highest brackets of US wage earners.